The Rev. Dr. Marisa Laviola, pastor of United Community Church in Morrisville, is leaving to become a conference minister for the United Church of Christ.
In a letter to her congregation, Laviola noted that she’s been in Morrisville for 11 years, first as pastor of the United Church of Christ, and five years ago bringing Puffer United Methodist Church into the organization — forming the United Community Church.
“I have had the blessed experience of guiding two congregations into one, from two missions into one mission, from two hearts into one heart,” she wrote. “I have been grateful and humbled by your willingness to follow God’s call to be a mission center in our greater community. And along every step of our journey, I have deeply loved each and every one of you.”
For the past two years, she’s been talking with United Church of Christ Vermont Conference ministers and with a national church about a wider mission as a conference minister.
“For the past two years, I have been in deep conversation with God, and I have come to realize that God’s voice is indeed calling me in a new direction,” she wrote.
It takes preparation to become a conference minister, she said. Beginning this fall, she will become a vitality coach for struggling congregations in the Vermont conference. She will also serve as an interim minister for congregations in transition — moving from one pastor to the next, or re-examining who they are and what they want to be.
“After much prayer and discernment, I have been offered and have accepted a new call as full-time interim pastor and teacher at Old Meeting House in East Montpelier. I am giving my three-month notice to all of you effective June 12, to begin my new position on Sept. 12.
“Please know that if God were calling me to continue in settled ministry, I would continue with you. I love all of you dearly, and leaving you will be very difficult for me.”