GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 28, 2013

New pastor leads First Baptist forward

Woman leading First Baptist sets sights forward

For nine months, the Rev. Cindy Antonuk had occasionally filled in leading services at the First Baptist Church on Gloucester Avenue — a church that had gone without a true pastor for two years.

Now, the church has a new pastor of its own, and it’s someone who had already been familiar to many in the congregation: It’s the Rev. Cindy Antonuk.

Antonuk started as the church’s covenant pastor in June, and has settled into her new post over the summer.

“They enjoyed my preaching, they kept calling me to come back and I was happy to do that,” she says.

After she had preached at the church several times, members of the congregation suggested interviewing her as a possible candidate for a covenant pastor. The head of the denomination gave Antonuk a call, saying that what the congregation needed most were patience and love because they’d experienced hurt in the past.

Antonuk says she provides the perfect fit.

“I feel that patience and love are two gifts that God gave me and I knew I could provide it to this congregation, no problem,” she says, “The rest, as they say, is history.”

Antonuk has spent many years involved in hospice chaplaincy.

“I was quite convinced that God had no plans for me to be the soul pastor of a church,” she says. “I felt that my experiences with terminal illness and the deaths of both my parents was God calling for me to be with those at the ends of their lives.”

She says she sees a number of similarities between her hospice chaplaincy and her role now as the pastor of First Baptist.

“It’s a church with an aging congregation, and they need to be revitalized,” she says.

She says her welcome has been warm.

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