By Carole Bernard
In the 143 years of history at South Congregational Church in Granby, Dawn Karlson is only the third woman to serve in a pastoral role. As the new Minister of Faith Formation and Youth Development, Karlson brings a rich and diversified background along with energy and passion to her role, having filled a similar role at First Congregational Church in Southington.
With a religious and spiritual background in the Roman Catholic Church, Karlson realized in early adulthood, as a stay-at-home mom to a son and daughter, that she still had many unanswered questions about faith. Although Karlson felt supported and encouraged by her teachers in her religious childhood education, there were still many mysteries to explore. She had no idea where these questions would lead her.
A love of language and culture drew Karlson to study Chinese, French and Spanish. She combined her degree in Economics with that love of language, enjoying a successful career in the international risk management field of insurance. In addition, what started out as a few courses in Global Ethics and Women's Spirituality eventually led to a Masters of Divinity degree. As a divinity student, Karlson was thankful to have been in the care of First Congregational Church of Granby and the Farmington Valley Association of the United Church of Christ. She was ordained in October 2011.
Karlson has participated in interfaith and service programs in Hartford, New York City, and the Northampton area, and would like to bring that energy and experience to South Church. Since service work is a core part of her ministry, Karlson’s goals include having youngsters understand and serve the needs of the community, especially Greater Hartford. She enjoys the questioning nature and openness to learning that youth and young adults possess. It is one of the things that draws her to working with youth.
A lover of nature, Karlson enjoys gardening, hiking, kayaking and camping. Not wanting to dictate outcomes, she feels much more comfortable respecting and responding to the natural movement and currents around her. Wanting to have a space for youth in town to feel safe, be who they truly are and fully develop their natural talents and curious nature, Karlson feels like the mission and goals of South Church are a great match for her.
Photo caption: Dawn Karlson serving communion to a youth in Ecuador. Submitted photo