Rev. William H. Stone, III, Pastor
Beginning Sunday, October 2nd , there will be a new face in the pulpit of the First Presbyterian Church of New Vernon: William H. Stone, III. Bill, wife Hayley, son Ewan, and newborn daughter Maisie (and not forgetting Westie “Dougal”) settled into the Lee’s Hill Road manse at the end of September for what the Church happily anticipates will be a long stay.
For the past seven years, Bill and Hayley have lived and worked in Scotland after both received degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary (Bill has Master of Divinity and of Theology degrees). Bill first served as an Associate Minister with the Church of Scotland in the rural parish of Banchory before moving in October 2011 to a large urban parish in Edinburgh where Bill was Associate Minister for Youth. His work in both positions focused on community outreach, ministry to young people, spiritual formation, and creative, intergenerational worship. Positive as this engaging with a different culture has proven to be, Bill asserts that he and Hayley were ready to return and “look forward to our move back to the States and to becoming part of such a vibrant community as New Vernon.” Bill is not a stranger to New Jersey having previously served as a Seminary Intern at Mountainside Community Presbyterian Church and as Chaplain at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.
Waiting for Maisie to be born (she arrived a bit past schedule on September 1) meant that the family couldn’t take up residence until the end of September. Everyone is sure that the wait will have been well worth it! The Stones were equally eager, as Bill commented: “First Presbyterian Church…members are so warm and welcoming, I’m excited to be their new pastor and for the work we can do together.”
The ministerial search process is long and arduous in the Presbyterian Church but worthwhile when the outcome is such a felicitous one. Bill reflected that “from a very early stage in my search, New Vernon stood out as an exceptional congregation. You have a rich history, active and generous members, beautiful worship, and a passion for engaging people of all ages as you live out [the Church’s] mission statement: ‘continuously to discover God’s love and spread it near and far’…I am excited about the future—about getting to know you and the New Vernon community and discerning together where God will lead us.” After the congregation unanimously voted to accept the Rev. William Stone, Bill responded, “I am both humbled and excited to serve as your next pastor. There is a lot to build on, to strengthen for the long haul, and to celebrate how far [the Church] has come.”