James Hodsden installed as pastor of First Presbyterian Church

Stacey Hartley • Updated Jun 8, 2019 at 3:56 PM

First Presbyterian Church officially is welcoming a new pastor Sunday.

While the Rev. James Hodsden has been at 21 Firelands Blvd. since receiving the church’s call from the pastoral nominating committee in August, his installation ceremony celebrates his rise and responsibilities of the position. 

Published author and writer for “The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,” David Price, described the purpose of having a formal installation service as the platform that “communicates that something significant is taking place and that it marks a new day and direction in the life of the church.”

The installation service will begin at 3 p.m. Sunday, followed by a reception.

It was Hodsden’s wife, Sara, who encouraged him to research the Norwalk community and First Presbyterian. He said he is excited for people “to come down and see what the installation and what First Presbyterian is all about.”

Sara, also an ordained minister, thought the church ministry, activities and “outlook of the congregation was a match for me and I (initally) said, ‘no,’” Hodsden said in an earlier interview. “So then, six months later, she said, ‘You know that church I told you about? — they’re still looking for a pastor and I think it would be really important for you to reach out to them.’”

Hodsden served at a Philadelphia-area church for nearly 10 years before being called to Norwalk.

“It really did seem like a match; God was very much calling me here,” said the pastor, who has been impressed with a strong sense of community in the city. “We loved the … strength of the mission programs here and we thought the church had a strong sense of its own identity.”

Hodsden, who was born in Mansfield, grew up in Texas. He attended the University of Houston, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics.

In the 1990s, he taught school through the Teach for America program. He did his student-teaching in Los Angeles and taught at a small school in Arkansas.

Hodsden attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian Church (USA)-affiliated school. His first pastorate was in Vernon, Texas, where his wife served as the director of Christian education.

“Then eventually after that we went to Philadelphia,” he said.

The previous pastor at First Presbyterian, the Rev. Adrian Doll, left in Janurary 2017 after about 12 years to be the senior pastor at Green Valley Presbyterian Church in Henderson, Nev. The Norwalk church had an interim minister, the Rev. Dave Comstock, for nearly 17 months before calling Hodsden.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Staff writer Cary Ashby contributed to this story.

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