WALPOLE — How do you welcome a new minister to your church in the midst of a global pandemic and social distancing? With a drive-by parade, of course.
Members of the First Congregational Church UCC of Walpole decided to celebrate the arrival of their newly called minister, Rev. Richard Malmberg and his wife, Jane, by driving by the parsonage on Thursday evening led by a police cruiser and three fire trucks. Honking horns, ringing bells, balloons and signs were all part of the procession as the Malmbergs waved from their front porch.
Moving to Walpole from the greater Chicago area, the Malmbergs settled into the parsonage May 11, and the Rev. Malmberg conducted his first church service in Walpole, via Zoom, on Sunday.
Malmberg was ordained in Concord in 1993 and has served four churches in the United Church of Christ — two in New England and two in the Midwest. Throughout his ministry, he has been active in interfaith relations, serving on several clergy associations, and was awarded a fellowship to attend an international summer school on religious tolerance in Jerusalem.
He offers experience in teaching, leading high school youth groups, Bible study, men’s retreats and mission trips, and also has received high marks from his references for his excellent pastoral care.
Malmberg graduated from Guilford College in North Carolina with a degree in religious studies and received his master of divinity degree from Andover Newton Theological School.
Jane Malmberg has had a varied career, working at National Geographic and as museum manager at the Manchester (N.H.) Historic Association. After receiving her master’s in library science from Simmons College in 2002, she has worked as a public librarian and most recently (before moving to Walpole) was head of the children’s department at the Woodridge, Ill., Public Library.
The Malmbergs are empty-nesters, with two sons currently living in Boston. Richard’s many interests include biking, fishing, birding, films, reading, music, collecting toys and dabbling in graphic design. Jane says she is a knitter who loves yarn shops. They both enjoy travel, museums and “adventurous” dining.
Ellie Shaw is a member of the First Congregational Church UCC of Walpole.