Friday, July 25, 2014

Pilates
for
Every Body

A Place for Women to Build a Stronger Center

new TRX CLASS combines strength
& corework

4-week session begins April

VOTED BEST
OF WESTPORT

pilatesforevery
bodywestport.com

Boland Bros. Painting Company LLC
Painting Company

For all of your painting and wallpapering needs.

Call George now for a free estimate:
203-241-8922

Mention WestportNow and get 10% discount

Rex
Marine Center

It's cold. Great time to
THINK SUMMER
Valet Rack or
In-Water Slips

Reserve NOW
Don't Miss Out!

144 Water Street
South Norwalk
203-866-5555

www.rexmarine.com

Westport Modular

Live Better at the Same Address in a Better-Built Home

Learn how modular homes are built
on your property.

Call 203-858-7198
westportmodular.com

Tear Down Specialists!

Westport Writing Workshops

Blocked?
How to Get Unstuck

Feb. 4, 9 am - Noon

Arcudi's Restaurant




 
News

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Face at Saugatuck Congregational Church

Digg Favicon Email Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon TwitThis Favicon

By James Lomuscio

WestportNow.com Image
The Rev. Howie Tobak: “We are alll God’s children.” Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
For the Rev. Howie Tobak, coming to Westport to serve as interim pastor of the Saugatuck Congregational Church, is the latest chapter in a United Church of Christ (UCC) ministry career that has spanned 23 years and 18 positions in more than a dozen states.

It also seems to be one he relishes most as he beams talking about how not only the congregation, but the community at large, has been welcoming.

“The town has been warmly welcoming, and I’ve never seen so much warmth like that,” says Tobak, 58, who replaces, or as he would prefer to say, “follows because no one could replace him,” the Rev. John Danner. 

Tobak, who recently moved to town with his wife Betsy, also a UCC minister, from Norwich, Vt., reflected on his own spiritual journey and the role he hopes to play in Westport over the next year-and-a-half to two years.

He acknowledged that he follows giants in his post, from Danner to the long-term Rev. Theodore Hoskins, a town legend whose legacies include the soup kitchen and Westport’s homeless shelters.

“Today, it’s not just the homeless people who are suffering,” he says evaluating his role as head of a church with a time-honored reputation for social justice and helping the less fortunate. “It’s a stressful time for this community and for people that call this place home.

“All too many people are having the need to reassess their livelihoods, their future plans and their hopes and their dreams,” he said regarding the economic downturn.

What role can the church play?

“The church can be a welcoming environment where folks can come as they are,” Tobak said.

Historically, New England churches assumed the role of social services, a role that was later relegated to civic associations that had more resources, he said. Now, Tobak says, more churches are returning to service roles.

Tobak’s own spiritual journey and his decision to enter the ministry seems as complex as the world in which he grew up.

“I grew up poor in the Lower East Side, and we didn’t know about differences of religion, we just knew that we were poor,” he said.

His father, the son of an Othodox Jewish cantor, worked at a lower Manhattan post office. His mother, an Anglican, worked as a bank clerk.

Tobak described a diverse upbringing, spending much of his time when not in public school at the Hamilton Madison Settlement House, where he was one of the few white kids who played among African American and Puerto Rican children.

At age 10, he said he was diagnosed with Type I diabetes, and his parents were told he would probably not live long into adulthood.WestportNow.com Image
The Rev. Howie Tobak chats with some of his church members. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com

He said his paternal grandfather told him that God had a purpose for giving him diabetes, and Tobak took that to mean that he should become an scientist to find a cure. 

At 13, his family moved to the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn, where he lived until 18 before leaving to study chemistry at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. He attended graduate school at Ohio State University.

After graduation he spent seven years working in the chemical industry as a quality assurance manager for Purex in Ohio and Pennsylvania and later, Richardson Merrill in New Jersey.

But Tobak said it was something about his Judeo-Christian upbringing, a combination of his grandfather’s spirituality and the people that he met at the Settlement House that seemed to beckon him to the religious life.

In 1983 he entered the Bangor Theological Seminary, graduating and working as an authorized minister in UCC churches throughout the country until his official ordination in 1990.

Now in Westport, Tobak waxed philosophically as he mulled the spiritual, physical and economic needs facing the community in the throes of the economic crisis. He lauded Homes With Hope, formerly known as the Interfaith Housing Association.

“But it can’t address all the needs,” he said. “There are still needs in our community that need to be more fully engaged so that people can find their footing to become the people that God intended them to be.”

Regarding the religious diversity of Westport, Tobak called it an asset.

“There is only one God, and I don’t care what you call God,” he said. “We are all God’s children.”

Posted 05/16 at 09:00 AM


Comments:     Comment Policy

No comments yet.

You need to Register and be logged in to post comments. If you are already registered but are not logged in, you can Login here.

Name:

Email:

Location:

URL:

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Submit the word you see below:

1 + 7 = ? (1 character(s) required)

Please note by clicking on "Submit" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Service and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Inappropriate posts may be removed.

<< Back to main


Register / Log in
Registration is required to post comments.
Register  •  Login
SPONSORS
EARTHPLACE SUMMER CAMP 2011

Westport Women

talk about
IN-LAW
RELATIONSHIPS

Tune in every Monday, 12:30 pm.

ASK DR.
ANNIE ABRAM
Radio Show

AugustWest Chimney
Massage Envy Spa

For Me, it's Healthy AND Affordable

203-571-1234
275 Post Road East
Westport

$49
Introductory 1-hour Massage Session

SCHEDULE APPOINTMENT

Jillian Klaff Homes
River House Restaurant, Westport, CT

From Summerhouse in Nantucket & Renatos Palm Beach to the
RIVER HOUSE:

CHEF RAUL

3-course special
every night $21.95

203-226-5532
299 Riverside Ave.
Westport, CT

MORE INFO & MENU

Give to DonorsChoose
WestportNow.com Stuff

Note: WestportNow Publisher Gordon F. Joseloff is also First Selectman of Westport