Two years ago in March, the Spy sat down with Joel Tolbert, to welcome him to the community and his new role as Pastor of the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown.
And then the country shuttered as the Covid-19 pandemic burned its way across continents.
Businesses scrambled to survive, large gatherings were prohibited, and schools closed. Institutions of faith suffered a same fate.
Lucky for the Chestertown’s Presbyterian congregation, Pastor Talbot had an extensive engineering background that helped him move church services online where he continued to provide livestream Sunday worship services.
These days, with the church open for services, Rev. Tolbert looks forward to discovering Chestertown without having to see it through a “pandemic lens.” Already, he tells the Spy, he has experienced much of the community’s friendship though the church’s congregation and their outreach activities with virtually every organization in the County from Samaritan Shelter and Crossroad Community to Youth Group Support and Minary’s Dream Alliance.
The Spy caught up with Rev. Tolbert this week to find out how he has fared during the pandemic and to talk about the principles he feels are core to the church and how his life experiences have influenced him.
The following interview discusses the Pastor’s observations on Christianity, what he perceives as misinterpretations in some ecclesiastical institutions, and his effort to “unlearn” inherited misconceptions of what the church and its message is about.
Having spent his early years in Georgia, Joel Tolbert, is familiar with socially conservative Protestant Christianity, especially its exclusionary and judgmental aspect, a characteristic emphasized and politicized across the country. To that end, the Pastor sees part of his new mission in Kent County as a bridge builder between our diverse community of white, Black and people of color, and has invited Black ministers to the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown to share perspectives and find ways to work toward eliminating racial disparities and improving outcomes for all residents.
This video is approximately thirteen minutes in length. To find out more about the Presbyterian Church of Chestertown, go here.