For the past eight years, the Rev. Bill Ingraham has led First Church Congregational on Pleasant Street through the COVID-19 pandemic, assisted in finding a new director for the Chapel School, oversaw repairs to the narthex and leaks in the bell tower, and replaced the furnace in the 295-year-old church.

On June 30, he left Methuen to start as pastor of Pleasantville United Church of Christ in Chalfont, Pa.

“The people and my relationship with them have certainly been the highlight. It’s been a great place to minister and live my life,”

Ingraham said of his time in Methuen.

He was the first openly gay pastor at the First Church, Methuen’s oldest house of worship organized in 1729.

“Some of the best moments in ministry have been responding in crisis situations and being present because it’s so special being with people at their time of need,” Ingraham said.

Josh Ferry, chairman of the board at First Church, said Ingraham will be missed by church members for his leadership in responding to needs in the church, his ministry and his sermons.

“He delivered dynamic sermons which were a blend of historical facts regarding the Scriptures, the meaning of the texts and how it was relevant to today and current events,” Ferry said.

Ferry added Ingraham will also be missed by the community at large as the pastor was active in the Methuen Exchange Club and at the YMCA where he was chairman of the board of managers at the Methuen branch and served as vice chairman of the Merrimack Valley YMCA corporate board.
Ingraham received the Volunteer of the Year award from the Y in 2018 and 2020.

It was through Ingraham’s involvement with the YMCA that he and members Marilyn Peck and her husband Ken started hosting an evening food pantry for Neighbors in Need at the church, now serving more than 400 families. The pantry was located on Ditson Place and, when school buildings closed during the pandemic, Neighbors in Need was looking for a new location. Ingraham brought the idea to the church and the congregation, led by Marilyn and Ken Peck, agreed to have it.

Marilyn Peck said Ingraham was dedicated to the church and the needs of the community.

Erin Lindveit was on the search committee that brought Ingraham to First Church in 2016.

“When I read his profile, I was impressed by his knowledge of the Bible, and his dynamic personality was what drew me to him,” she said.

When Lindveit’s husband Herb died, Ingraham was very supportive to her and her family, both at the hospital and at the funeral service.

“His overall presence was amazing,” Lindveit said.

Ingraham said he will miss driving his silver Mini Cooper around the city and walking 2 to 3 miles around Methuen, especially going to Greycourt, Park Street and on the grounds of the former Presentation of Mary Academy.

“My walks were a history lesson because I loved learning about the town,” he said.

Ferry said the church will begin the search for a new pastor shortly.

“We will continue to strive to make a difference in our beloved community and the City of Methuen,” Ferry said