Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

January 10, 2013

Religious tradition - pulpit exchange - turns 20

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — A popular 20-year religious tradition that brings together two Andover congregations will continue this weekend.

The Temple Emanuel / South Church Pulpit Exchange is happening Sunday, Jan. 13 at 10:30 a.m. at South Church on Central Street.

Each year, South Church and Temple Emanuel take turns hosting. Temple Emanuel has the odd-numbered years, while South Church takes the even years. The Rev. Cal Mutti, formerly of South Church, started the exchange.

This year, Rabbi Robert Goldstein of Temple Emanuel will deliver the sermon while children’s choirs from both congregations will perform.

“We come together and it works well,” Goldstein said. “It’s open, tolerant and it’s warm...that’s a reflection of religion in Andover and it’s great to be a part of.”

“It’s a time of sharing and coming together in faith,” said the Rev. John W. Zehring of South Church. “We’ll have a lot of youth music and people love that.”

Goldstein said his congregation especially enjoys hearing prayers said in English as they are so used to prayers said in Hebrew. Over the years, he’s seen neighbors go to the exchange together, something they don’t do regularly. One reason his wife, Faith Goldstein, who teaches first grade at South Elementary School, enjoys the exchange is because she gets to see former students who attend South Church.

“I think one reason why people really like this is because it’s different,” Goldstein said. “Worshipping together is just a good experience for all.”

Zehring agreed, pointing to the town’s successful interdenominational Thanksgiving service as more evidence that this type of formula works. The Thanksgiving service is held every year and is hosted by a council of religious leaders in town. Different religions are represented at that service.

“We are all faithful and it’s wonderful to come together,” Zehring said.

The pulpit exchange service is open to the public.