New minister to grow with church

St. David’s Episcopal Church welcomes Rev. Karin Mitchell.

By: Jessica Beym
   At St. David’s Episcopal Church in Cranbury, there is always room to grow.
   In the church’s 35 years, it has grown from a small mission that met in The Peddie School chapel in Hightstown to a South Main Street church of almost 150 local families.
   Today, the faith of the congregation and its membership continues to grow as the parishioners welcome their new rector, the Rev. Karin Mitchell.
   "There’s so much talk in the country about the lack of spirituality, but there really is such a great hunger for faith," said the Rev. Mitchell. "There are people looking for a ground to stand on and a place to bring their questions. The world is so different now and it’s important for people to have a place to find peace, spiritual renewal and acceptance."
   The Rev. Mitchell, 50, has been serving as the new rector of St. David’s Church since November and was officially installed during a ceremony on Jan. 7. The church had been actively searching for a new rector since it’s founder, the Rev. Laurence Fish, retired in 2003.
   "In our church, you can’t just go out and get a new priest right away," said Russ Beaulieu, a member of the church who was part of the church’s search committee.
   After reviewing numerous applicants from across the state and re-evaluating the church’s mission, the committee said it found what it was looking for fairly close to home.
   "We had a number of candidates, but she was really outstanding. She’s young, she has a family and she’s very compassionate. I have a positive feeling about her," said Cranbury resident Angela Holman, who was also a member of the search committee.
   Today, the Rev. Mitchell lives in Hightstown with her husband, David, and her three children Scott, 23, Sarah, 20, and Sam, 16. She attended Princeton Theological Seminary until May 2001 and graduated from Rutgers University’s Douglass College with a master’s in microbiology in 1977. She left her position as a vicar at St. Francis’ Episcopal Church in Dunellen, when she was chosen to serve at St. David’s.
   The Rev. Mitchell said she isn’t a stranger to the church and its congregants. She said she has been a parishioner there for 15 years.
   "It seemed like it all just came together," said the Rev. Mitchell. "It’s wonderful to be back in the community. It’s an interesting time for the parish because they are looking into what their mission is."
   The 200 members of the church community come from local towns including Cranbury, East Windsor, West Windsor, Plainsboro, Hightstown and Jamesburg. But the Rev. Mitchell said she hopes a new perspective on community outreach will help the congregation continue to grow and attract the many young families that are moving to the area.
   "It’s hard for people to find a place that will accept them because there are so many places that are just black and white. Episcopal is the middle way. We want to be open to the community, to be a place where people feel comfortable coming in and worshipping," said the Rev. Mitchell.
   Not only is St. David’s Church trying to bolster its congregation, the members are also trying to increase the parishioners volunteer services and various programs such as Youth Group.
   But drastic changes aren’t something the Rev. Mitchell has in mind. She said she plans to work with the vestry to sharpen the focus of the church’s collective vision.
   "Fresh eyes will continue to change things," said the Rev. Mitchell. "I’m thankful that the church (Father Fish) left was whole, intact and healthy and is willing to accept new leadership."