Christ Church of Longboat Key began in 2005 in a Longboat resident's home when a group of people were looking for a faith community. After trying out different churches and deciding to affiliate with the Presbyterian Church, they started Christ Church LBK with the help of retired pastors in the area in 2011.
Now, the congregants' involvement and dedication to their community has brought along their first full-time pastor. The Rev. Julia Piermont is the first pastor of the church to live on the Key and the first female pastor of Christ Church.
Originally from Illinois, Piermont has been active in the Presbyterian Church since childhood, especially through music. She majored in music at Luther College. The faith-centered campus life inspired her to pursue her faith as her career, so she headed to McCormick Theological Seminary for her master's in divinity and Princeton Theological Seminary for her doctorate in ministry.
Piermont then served at multiple churches in the Midwest, recently coming from Worthington Ohio. She was head pastor at Worthington Presbyterian Church for nine years.
Christ Church started looking for a new pastor last winter when The Rev. Norman Pritchard decided to retire. Members did a nationwide search and picked Piermont out of over 90 candidates. Piermont said the history behind the church inspired her to consider the job.
“Their foundation is not in the church body, their foundation is in their passion to be faithful,” said Piermont. “That's what really excited me about this church. It is more like the churches that Paul writes about in the New Testament than any church I've ever known.”
Piermont officially starts as the new pastor at Christ Church at her first Sunday Service on Dec. 3, and she is ready to dive into the Christ Church community and the Longboat Community as well.
The Longboat Observer sat down with Piermont to learn about her goals as a new pastor in paradise.
What is your favorite part about being a pastor?
I really love helping people make connections between what's going on in their lives and that in the stories in the guidance that's in scripture. So that people will feel the presence of Christ because of God and our lives and in that they experience the ability to be able to trust it.
What are you most excited about at Christ Church?
Each pastor before me said that this is their favorite church they have ever served, and I see why. People are here because they want to be, they don't have to have. That means they were doing it for the joy of it. That joy is a part of the character of this congregation. I'm eager to be a part of that and to continue it.
What are your goals for the first couple months?
I just want to get to know the rhythm of the island and the activities of the congregation. That's what I'll be doing for a few months. Christ Church is a congregation that cares a great deal about having a quality worship and good fellowship connections. So I want to learn more about the mission with these and understand how we can tackle those goals.
What stands out about Longboat Key?
In my last job, I was in a community that did a lot of things and I worked with three other pastors so we would divide things up. I often was not the person that would go to town things and other community events because it was a busy job. And I am the first pastor of the church that lives on the island. So I am thrilled to be a part of the community here. I want to get to know the people who work here, and I want to know more about what their lives are like, what's good and what's hard. I'm just eager to learn the insides and outs.
Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.