Interim Pastor Tom Kinder is an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ. He has served in the Vermont Conference as student minister in the Norwich Congregational Church under the Rev. Mark Pickett (1993-94), as settled pastor in the West Newbury Congregational Church (1994-1996) and then as settled pastor of the First Congregational Church in Thetford (Thetford Hill) (1996-2013). He has been a teacher of contemplative prayer for twenty years, growing out of a daily practice for forty years. Tom is also a Registered Life Planner and trainer of Life Planners for the Kinder Institute, founded by his brother, George. (For more on Life Planning: https://www.lifeplanningforyou.com/) Tom has written over one hundred hymns and is an award-winning poet. Before entering the ministry he was a marketing director for catalogue companies and an executive director of nonprofits including The Working Land Fund. He feels most at home in the fields and forested hills of Vermont and in the sanctuaries of its village churches.
Tom’s theological training began at his mother’s knee, listening to the allegorical stories of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald and classics like The Secret Garden, as well as the Greek and Roman myths, fairy tales and, of course, the Bible. Tom was confirmed in the Presbyterian Church but also attended an Episcopal Church as a boy. For a while as a young teen he participated in a prayer circle where he heard people speaking in tongues and exhibiting other charismatic gifts. He continued his theological training at the Phillips Exeter Academy where his grandfather and uncle taught. Tom studied religion and writing extensively at Exeter and served as a Deacon and worship leader in the Phillips Church. He took religion and philosophy courses at Princeton University where he majored in English in the Creative Writing Program. He received his Master of Divinity degree from Harvard Divinity School, with additional training in interim ministry and hospital chaplaincy. He was called into the ministry from the United Church of Strafford, Vermont, where he had served as a member of the Pastoral Relations Committee, on a Search Committee and as a Deacon.