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New Pastor Leads Kitchell Memorial Presbyterian Church into its 125th Year

Nov 12, 2022 02:10PM ● By Steve Sears

Hannah Faye Allred was interviewed for the pastor position of East Hanover’s Kitchell Memorial Presbyterian Church in late March of this year, and she started that new role on April 4, the Monday prior to Holy Week.

“It was something,” Allred says. “There’s that silly expression ‘Like drinking water from a fire hydrant.’ I can't think of a more accurate way of describing that first week. My very first Sunday in the pulpit was on Palm Sunday. In that Holy Week time you have Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and then of course you have Easter Sunday. In a normal week, you are putting together one bulletin, one sermon, one order of worship, etc. That very first week on the job, I was putting together four separate services. I didn't have a lot of wiggle room, and I just jumped right in. And thankfully, this church has just been so wonderful and loving and supportive. We just kind of made our way through the week together.”

Allred’s official Ordination and Installation as Kitchell pastor took place on May 22, 2022.

Allred has what she calls a “sweet congregation” at Kitchell, which turns 125 years old in 2023. “They've been around since 1898. It's a congregation that's been through a lot. They've survived periods of real financial scarcity and financial abundance, and I feel - as is true of denominations across the country – the church has declined quite a bit over the last few generations. So, they're sort of renewing and reimagining themselves as the church that they are now, which is a smaller and older congregation, but one that is still full of life and hope for the future. They really want to be sort of a light and stakeholder in the community of East Hanover again, like they used to be in the past. I feel incredibly lucky to be starting my ministry journey here, because I think there really is something special about this place and what they want to do and grow into. It’s a lovely group.”

Allred, originally from Texas, went to college in Oklahoma, where she met her husband Patrick, who currently works at First Presbyterian Church in Morristown. She then attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City. “I felt a very strong and profound call to ministry, which was a really confusing thing because I didn't really have a lot of context for that,” Allred says. “I didn't see a lot of that represented in my upbringing. And so, thankfully, it was professors and other people who took a vested interest in me during college that sort of kind of put me on that trajectory.” Allred first worked for the Brick Presbyterian Church in the City of New York on the Upper East side, and then for First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York in West Village. Deciding that the big town was too fast paced for her family which now included young children (daughter Jane is two and son Henry is five), Allred and her husband began to look for something smaller and slower paced on the western side of the Hudson River. Coincidentally, someone from Kitchell called her. Allred relives the conversation. “They started talking to me about this small but mighty little group of people who have a big vision, and they really want to try some new things. I thought, ‘This is really interesting. Now this sounds kind of fun and exciting.”

Allred is bringing new initiatives to her congregation. In addition to its current on-going bible study, a possible once a month zoom meeting evening bible study is being formed. “It is not necessarily a new, groundbreaking idea, but we’re just trying to do whatever we can to be more accessible to anyone who would like to explore themselves spiritually, or be more involved with the church, but have not been able to do so because of work commitments or what have you,” Allred says. Also, the Parish Life Committee is working hard on several things, such as a Christmas tree lighting at the church with the community invited. “And then within worship, liturgically speaking, we have a new idea for Reformation Sunday. We're going to do a Lessons and Carols service that we haven't done before. That's normally something reserved for Advent season,” she adds. “Just finding ways of taking what Kitchell already is so good at - this loving, nurturing community - and just taking that faith and that community and putting them back into East Hanover, and putting that faith into action.”

Kitchell Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 469 Ridgedale Avenue in East Hanover. For more information, visit