The First United Methodist Church in Newton has welcomed a new pastor, The Reverend Todd Lattig.  Although Lattig is new to the church, he is no stranger to Sussex County, having served at churches in Stillwater and Vernon prior to his assignment in Newton.  In a rare twist of fate, Lattig is now serving at the church in which his own parents were married many years ago.  Lattig assumed the post in July.

In many ways, Lattig has been circling ever closer to his new congregation his entire life.  “I’ve lived in Sussex County my whole life,” explains Lattig, who married a local girl, Bernadette, after meeting her at his own mother’s workplace in Franklin.  The couple now have two teenage daughters.  First serving the Vernon United Methodist Church as the Youth Pastor, Lattig served as the chaplain at Newton’s Bristol Glen continuing care retirement community during his stint as Senior Pastor at his second post, Harmony Hill United Methodist Church in Stillwater.  Since many of his current congregants reside at Bristol Glen, he was welcomed into his new post in Newton by many familiar faces.  In addition, through his work in the community, Lattig was already acquainted with the Newton church and its programs. 

“I knew that this church was one of the largest Methodist congregations in the county and that it had a strong music program, which is one of the things that has always been important to me,” explains Lattig, who dabbles in art, music and poetry during his spare time.  He points out that the monthly coffee houses hosted by the church are an important component of the church and its outreach to youth in the community.  “The coffee houses allow us to invite kids to do what they love, which is to share their talent and creativity in a safe, non-judgmental environment.”

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Lattig adds, “I love that this church is outward-focused in their outreach.  The church used to be the place in town where the members of the community could be found.  Now, we are spreading the Word by going out into the community, which is bringing us back to our roots as Christians.”

Working with area youth has been a constant in Lattig’s ministry.  He is actively involved in Skylands Young People Empowered, a religious organization which coordinates missionary projects and events for Methodist youth.  Lattig is also a co-leader of a team of people with the Search for Christian Maturity, an initiative which organizes an annual ecumenical retreat for youth and young adults.  “The purpose is to develop a spiritual foundation and a connection with God which gives participants a way to witness and experience the love of God personally and encourages them to become disciples.”

Knowing his audience may not necessarily be found in the pews on Sunday mornings, Lattig posts devotions on his blog twice a week.  Subject matter can be found in newsworthy events or in Scripture.  “I have been able to take secular things like TV shows and find God in them,” explains Lattig, who is currently doing a series on Biblical characters.  “I use it in ways to inspire and encourage people to develop and grow in their faith.”

Lattig is looking forward to partnering with other community leaders in his new role.  “I believe firmly in building community, because ultimately, God wants us to be good neighbors, love one another, and include as many people as possible in our faith.  I would like to build the First United Methodist Church of Newton into a strong and inclusive church where all are welcome.”

The First United Methodist Church of Newton is located at 111 Ryerson Avenue in Newton.  For more information, visit www.newtonmc.com or call 973-383-4450.