Rev. Dana Allen Walsh has been elected as the 18th senior pastor of South Church in Andover.
Walsh, who will officially join the parish July 15, replaces Rev. John Zehring, who retired after an ordained ministry of more than 30 years, the last five as the senior pastor of South Church.
She comes to South Church from Hancock Church in Lexington, where she has served since 2006.
“We are thrilled to welcome Dana to South Church and the Andover community,” Thomas Arnold, co-chairman of the church’s search committee, said in a press release. “She serves with creative energy, intelligence, engagement and deep spirit and will be a vibrant addition to our church and the wider community.”
Debbie Andrews, co-chairwoman of the church’s search committee, added, “Dana has earned widespread respect for her effectiveness as a preacher and leader, helping people understand and act upon issues of social justice, and engaging with seekers of all ages. She is highly regarded as a person of faith and for her maturity and compassion.”
In her eight years at Hancock, Walsh worked closely with the senior pastor, regularly participating, planning and leading worship services. In recognition of her contributions and increased leadership in the church, she was promoted from associate to minister in 2011.
At Hancock, she served as co-president of Lexington Interfaith Clergy Association and she created a town interfaith garden that yields more than 1,000 pounds of produce annually for a local food pantry. She also has led four international and nine regional adult and youth mission trips
“When I look at South Church, I see a vital congregation, which seeks to build on its strong history as a leader and pioneer in the United Church of Christ and Andover community,” Walsh said in the release. “I see an active congregation whose members believe our Christian faith impacts all of who we are and how we live in God’s world. When I look at South Church, I see a congregation that I am honored to become a part of.”
Walsh grew up in Connecticut and graduated from the University of Mary Washington in Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in international affairs. She received her Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey and was ordained in 2006.
She and her husband, Sean, and son, Leighton, will live in South Church’s parsonage on School Street. He is the English Department chairman and drama director at Malden High School.