Meet Melissa Boyer, The New Pastor of Babylon United Methodist Church

Melissa Boyer has become the new pastor of Babylon United Methodist Church on Deer Park Avenue in Babylon Village. This is not her first time working in a church. She became a pastor at the Trinity Boscobel United Methodist Church in Buchanan, New York in 2004, after earning her Master of Divinity degree in 1999 with Union Theological Seminary. She stayed with Trinity Boscobel through 2010. She worked a chaplaincy at Columbia University, then served as the pastor of Katonah United Methodist Church in Katonah, NY from 2010 through June of 2023.

“The most important part of being a pastor is connections. Connecting with people in the church, connecting with people in the community in which the church is located,” Boyer said. “Also staying connected to God and encouraging other people to stay connected to the spiritual side of life.”

Boyer believes that places of worship are important now more than ever, especially since the COVID-19 lockdown. “I think the work that houses of worship do now is especially important when people are still feeling isolated from one another, even though that is still changing after the pandemic there are still people that fall through the cracks.”

Boyer grew up in Arkansas, where she first started to feel a pull towards becoming a member of the church. “When I was a teenager, I got involved In the CYO (Catholic Youth Organization) and I really liked it. I liked planning retreats for my peers, I liked giving talks, leading small groups, and praying with people,” she said. Since she didn’t want to become a nun and couldn’t be a priest, she decided to become a pastor. Boyer became a part of the United Methodist Church thanks to connections she made with some of her teachers at Hendrix College in Arkansas.

“I remember going with some of my friends to a United Methodist Church and really loved how welcoming everyone was. They fed us, just embraced us with open arms; I loved the sermons, I loved the music, and those experiences brought me into the Methodist Church,” she said.  She also loves the way that the church invites people to engage in social activities. 

The moment that it all began to click into place for her, however, was when she went to a seminary after gaining her degree in teaching history. “When I was visiting graduate programs in history, I decided to visit some seminaries as well, and I really felt like I belonged in the seminaries.” From there she did work under campus ministry at Columbia University, and eventually did an internship at a church. 

Boyer has already begun making an impression on the town. One of the more recent things she has done as pastor is to set up a stand outside the church of  Lucy offering psychiatric help for 5 cents, a parody of the Charles Schultz comic “Peanuts.”  For fun, Boyer set it up during the Babylon Block Party.

“Since our Church is right there on Deer Park Avenue and within the bounds of the block party, we thought, ‘why not have a presence at the block party,’” she said.  Boyer and others at the church were giving away cookies, lemonade and water and had crafts for kids to do.

“When I first saw this church, I had a vision of me sitting at a table outside, wearing my clergy collar, with a sign saying, ‘ask a pastor’ just seeing if anyone would talk to me,” Boyer said.

Since moving to Babylon in July, she has been trying to learn more about the village and get acquainted with its residents. “One of my favorite quotes is by Teilhard De Charden,” Boyer said.  “He writes, ‘we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.’ I like to remind everyone that they are a sacred and spiritual being, and that everyone is precious in the sight of God.”