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New Douglaston pastor has eye set on outreach

The new pastor at the Community Church of Douglaston has begun his ministry with the goal of bringing more children into the fold and using the creative talents of the 88-year-old congregation to lift its spirits into the heavens.

The Rev. Steven Everett began his duties in late February, replacing the church's interim minister following the retirement nearly three years ago of the Rev. John Meyer, pastor of the church for more than 20 years.

Everett, a New Jersey native, moved to Douglaston with his wife and two daughters from upstate Glenmont, N.Y., where he had served as pastor at a church there.

"Part of our call was to come back home after Sept. 11 to help with recovery," said Everett of his personal motivation in returning to the New York area.

Professionally, Everett wishes to focus on community outreach, especially to children, in his stewardship of the 120-member Reformed Church in America congregation.

"Kids are our future. They live in a harder world than I lived in," said the pastor, who is 34. "They need the ministry of the church to help them understand the world. Through them, the church will grow."

A key form of outreach will take place this fall when the Community Church opens its after-school program to children in first through fifth grades.

The program, open to the public, will offer homework help and test preparation in addition to Bible study and ethics teaching from 2:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays.

"We've noticed that a lot of working families have a lot of trouble finding safe and affordable care for their children," Everett said.

The church's proximity to the Douglaston railroad station will make it convenient for parents to pick up their children after commuting from work, the pastor said.

Another method of outreach will be Bible study and community events dealing with diversity and tolerance with Asian guest speakers visiting the church, Everett said.

Everett also hoped to take advantage of the musical and artistic talents of his flock, including the youngest members, who form a string section on Sundays.

The senior choir's musical performances range from "Renaissance, baroque and classical to gospel and contemporary jazz," under the direction of organist and choir director Gerald Anders, according to the church's Web site.

The church also invites professional musicians to perform a variety of musical styles in its concert series.

"It's an incredibly gifted church," Everett said.

Although his congregation has experienced a drop in membership similar to that of other churches in recent years, the minister was encouraged by the revival of interest that he believed was sparked by the arrival of a new permanent pastor.

"There's a wonderful excitement and a yearning for spirituality."

Reach reporter Ayala Ben-Yehuda by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.

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