Retired North Attleborough reverend reflects on 36 years of service

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Central Congregational Church
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A North Attleborough reverend with 36 years of service at the Central Congregational Church in Attleboro Falls has decided to retire.

Rev. Carole Baker announced her decision to retire at the beginning of February, ending a long career of sermons, charity and visiting those who are sick. Baker, 76, said she decided to retire after contracting encephalitis in August. Despite her sudden illness, Baker is still in good spirits and is recovering at her North Attleborough home.

“I was always planning on retiring at some point, so this was perhaps a sign from God,” Baker laughed. “I have to re-learn how to drive because the illness affected my nerves. It’s almost like I get to be 16 years old again.”

Baker began her career in 1974 as an associate pastor at the United Church of Christ in Denver, Colorado. A devout church member, Baker was allowed to help lead services after the local associate pastor expressed their desire to leave their position.

“It was actually quite funny,” Baker said. “The associate pastor called me and said ‘I can’t stand this senior pastor! Can you take over?’ I then got my degree and started work as the next associate pastor.”

In 1976, Baker was officially ordained by the United Church of Christ. She served as an associate pastor in Abington from 1976 to 1981 and in Walpole from 1981 to 1988.

Following her time in Walpole, Baker moved to North Attleborough, where she became the reverend for the church’s Attleboro branch. As a reverend, her duties included delivering sermons, hosting community events for the church, visiting the sick, and ensuring every service on Sunday was held without any problems or complaints.

“We had a lot of memorable moments,” Baker said. “I remember giving a sermon on the Vietnam War and two of our members walked out of the church. It was quite a scene.”

A constant challenge for Baker and the church has been trying to inspire young people to be more active in the community. She said the number of church members who are 16 years old or younger has decreased dramatically over 10 years. Baker hopes the reverend, who will eventually succeed her, will find ways to encourage more young people to get involved.

“It’s a difficult time,” Baker admitted. “The younger generation is just not as interested.”

Baker said she would miss her congregation but added she was hopeful for them in their future endeavors.

“I haven’t made an official good-bye speech yet,” Baker said. “For now, keep doing what you’re doing.”