Pastor heard call at early age; Greendale People's Church installs Rev. McCarthy.
WORCESTER - Thousands have left their newspaper careers over the years as a struggling national economy and the emergent Internet have crippled the industry with job losses.
But Barry J. McCarthy abandoned his job in advertising sales for another reason.
He wanted to serve God.
"I've always had the call but for the longest time the phone wasn't answered," said the Rev. Dr. McCarthy, now an ordained clergyman.
Yesterday afternoon, he was installed as the new pastor of Greendale People's Church.
Rev. McCarthy has actually been on the job at Greendale People's Church since September.
"I'm really impressed with this congregation," he said. "They have a sincere care in helping others in the community who are not as fortunate as they are."
Greendale People's Church is on Francis Street and is affiliated with the nondenominational International Council of Community Churches.
It has a membership of about 500.
Rev. McCarthy worked for about a dozen years in the advertising department of The Record-Journal, a newspaper in Meriden, Conn.
Though he was happy in his job, he said he felt a persistent calling to the ministry, a tug he's experienced since he was a young child.
For example, at the age of 8, he told his mother he wanted to become a bishop.
"I'm late to the ministry but I always felt that I wanted to serve," he explained.
Rev. McCarthy was born in Wallingford, Conn., to John and Virginia McCarthy.
He was raised a Roman Catholic and graduated from Xaverian High School in Middletown, Conn. He studied economics at the University of Connecticut.
Though he was interested in the ministry, Rev. McCarthy said he was uncomfortable with the Catholic Church on some issues and was not interested in becoming a priest.
"It just wasn't a good fit for me," he said.
He said he put off the decision to pursue ministerial studies until he was inspired by a speech by civil rights advocate and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, who asked a Connecticut audience just what they were doing to make a difference in the world.
"That really did it for me," said Rev. McCarthy.
He said he had many discussions with his pastor at First Congregational Church in Wallingford - exploring all the pros and cons before finally deciding to pursue ministry.
Rev. McCarthy earned a master's degree in divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary and a doctorate in ministry from Andover Newton Theological School.
After leaving his theological studies, Rev. McCarthy became the pastor of Messiah United Church of Christ in Washington Mills, in upstate New York.
He also served at Sayles Memorial Congregational Church in Lincoln, R.I., for six years before serving in interim posts at Milford Congregational Church and Sutton Congregational Church.
Rev. McCarthy said he was impressed with the activism at Greendale People's Church as soon as he came on board.
"We have a very committed group of people," he said.
Rev. McCarthy noted the church is filled almost every weeknight with groups of parishioners working on various projects.
Interestingly, Rev. McCarthy's first official duty at Greendale People's Church involved preaching at the congregation's black sister church in New York City.
Among those attending yesterday's installation services were the Rev. Michael Livingston, the executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, and the Rev. Dale Hempen, the associate conference minister with the Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.
Service participants included Russell Vickstrom, the church's moderator, and Kenneth White, the chairman of the search committee.
There were gifts, prayers and hymns for the occasion.
Parishioners were hoping the Rev. Ralph Marsden, the church's pastor emeritus, could also attend but he is recuperating from an illness.
Greendale People's Church has been served by several prominent clergymen.
The Rev. Kenneth Bath, for example, was an observer at the Second Vatican Council and reported from the Middle East in the 1950s and 1960s to Massachusetts congregations about the tumultuous relationship between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The Rev. Jeffrey R. Newhall was also a beloved figure in the community.
A former leader of the International Council of Churches, he died in 2007 after a two-year battle with brain cancer.
Rev. McCarthy replaces the interim pastor, the Rev. C. Ronald Wilson, who is now with a Michigan congregation.
CUTLINE: The Rev. Michael Livingston, executive director of the International Council of Community Churches, left, congratulates the Rev. Barry J. McCarthy during his installation ceremony yesterday at Greendale People's Church.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/JIM COLLINS