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City pastor settles in with new rural flock

  • Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Rev. Peter Kakos stands in the sanctuary at First Congregational Church of Hatfield Wednesday. He is the new minister at the church.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

After retiring from his longtime post at the Edwards Church in Northampton in 2011, Kakos said, “I had no intention of becoming a part-time minister, but then I was invited to apply for the call to be a minister here in Hatfield.”

And so the Northampton resident has been minister for the 120-member Hatfield congregation since May, 2012. He will be officially installed June 2.

“It has been a very happy marriage,” Kakos said in a recent interview, smiling warmly. “This is a beautiful church. When I look at its old historic spire, I think it reminds us that the church exists to be a moral compass. One that points people to compassion, to love, and to enjoy God and one’s neighbors, whoever they may be.”

Kakos said it was a privilege to serve at the Edwards Church, and for the past eight months, he’s been happy to be in a new congregation, where he says everyone knows each other on a first-name basis.

“They are a very hard-working and welcoming congregation. They love their church and they are very open and responsive,” Kakos said. “I am impressed with their enthusiasm and leadership,” he said.

Recently, the church agreed to hold a community-wide celebration of the Jan 1, 1863, signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.

“We were one of the few churches in the area to hold a service recognizing the day,” Kakos said. “It was wonderful. There were as many people here from the community as there were church members.”

A poet and a composer of hymns, Kakos said the celebration was particularly uplifting when those gathered sang old slave spirituals.

“If I am inspired by anything in American Christianity, it is the spirituals. They were truly born from the soul,” he said.

Spending a few minutes with the minister, one can easily detect his compassion and his ability to relate to others.

In an interview at the church on Tuesday, he became teary as he recalled sharing an old slave song with local musicians in a pub in Galway, Ireland.

Before being invited to sing, Kakos had noticed several old pictures of barefoot children in old and tattered clothing hanging on the walls, a sad and lasting testament to the hunger and oppression the Irish had suffered during the famine. He immediately knew what he would sing to honor his American roots as well as his Irish neighbors.

Standing, Kakos sang a spiritual called “I Got Shoes.” In the song, getting shoes inferred freedom. The song ends with the once enslaved entering heaven with the phrase “I got a harp,” a particularly poignant symbol for his appreciative Irish audience, as the harp is a beloved Irish symbol of freedom as well as their national emblem.

Kakos also has deeply held convictions regarding peace and social justice.

As a member of the Northampton Committee to Stop the Wars, the minister was arrested twice while demonstrating against the war in Iraq outside of Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee.

“Our invasion of Iraq was categorically disastrous,” he said. “Still, we make it a point to honor and pray for the men and women who served, for their loved ones and for all of the victims of the war.”

Kakos was a charter member of the board of directors for the Interfaith Cot Shelter, where he has volunteered for 17 years, working overnight shifts once a week.

“This is working out nicely for me because I am in Hatfield three days a week and when I do my overnights, I don’t have to worry about getting up early to go to the office the next day,” he said.

Kakos regularly travels to Cape Cod to help care for his 93-year-old mother, and he and his wife, Linda, have three children and three grandchildren.

Comments
Legacy Comments1

Peter, I had wondered how you would fare in retirement. Now, I know. Congratulations!

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