Rene and Jeff’s Story

Rene and Jeff Chin

 Rene and Jeff joined NMCC in 2000.  They have 3 children, Taylor, 19, Ryland, 16 and Jade, 13.  Aside from their work at church, the Chins enjoy spending time with their family. In addition to working at BMS, Jeff teaches chemistry lab at UNH and serves as chair of the American Chemical Society. Rene substitutes in the Madison school district and has recently joined the Circle Nursery School Board.  We asked Rene to tell us a little more about themselves.

Where did you and Jeff meet?

 We were both attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  Jeff graduated with a degree in chemistry and I in psychology.  After dating for four years, we were married in 1990.

Were you married in the Congregational Church?

 No, we chose a Presbyterian church in New Jersey, where we lived at the time.  Congregational churches were not found in that area. We were quite active in that church before we moved to Madison ten years later.

So, is that the church in which you were brought up?

 My family did not attend church and I had no exposure to formal religion as a child.  Jeff attended a Baptist Sunday school for a while, but it didn’t really form a lasting impression.  Religion really wasn’t on the radar for either of us growing up.

Then what first drew you into church as adults?

We wanted to get married in a church and realized that we didn’t want to be hypocritical and just get married there and then move on. So we visited several churches before feeling comfortable in the Presbyterian Church. After our wedding, we committed  ourselves to becoming active members.

And what attracted you to NMCC after you relocated to Connecticut?

 When we moved here, our former pastor informed us that the Congregational service was similar to the Presbyterian.  From our first service at NMCC, we felt the warmth and love of the congregation.  Certainly the feeling that our closing hymn “Shalom” stirs – that feeling of community – drew us in initially. Over the years, NMCC has become another family for us – a place where we not only feel comfort, but learn from others, grow in our faith and give of ourselves.

You have both played a large part in so many aspects of church business and activities.  Can you summarize your involvement?

 Jeff has been on the Board of Finance and is currently serving on Property and Planning.  He helps tape Sunday worship services and is chairing the Antique Fair.  Last summer he helped Cathy Meier with that and in 2014 he’ll be going it solo.  He has chaperoned three senior youth group mission trips and many of that group’s meetings, as well as participating in parent planning sessions.  Jeff has also taught Sunday School and has helped facilitate our Confirmation program several times as mentor and parent coordinator/assistant.

I have served on the Board of Christian Education twice and also on the Board of Deacons.   I sat on the Pastoral Search Committee and currently I’m a member of the Human Resources and Pastoral Support Committees.  For many years I led the book group discussion.  I have volunteered as a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher, junior youth group chaperon and nursery attendant.  I have been active in the Confirmation program and have mentored three young ladies over time. Currently, Pastor Jim and I are leading our new Confirmation program and I will be serving as a mentor again.

Wow!  You’ve really had your hands full.  You and Jeff seem to have a special affinity for the church’s youth programs.  What makes these so important to you and such a vital focus for our church as a whole?

 I think we find ourselves drawn to the young people because they are the ones that put in front of us what’s really important.  We’re able to see the world through clearer eyes when we work and interact with our children and youth.  They consistently remind us of what matters . . . not continuing on our little hamster wheels, go-go-going, but taking time to listen to each other, to discover what really matters in our daily lives, which is connecting with our loved ones.  Children remind us of God’s goodness and our many blessings, and to not take them for granted.

By embracing our children and youth, we are provided with an opportunity to suspend the expectations we place on the world and experience life the way they do.  They help us to simplify our lives and pay closer attention to our relationships with one another and within our community.

Of course, both Jeff and I believe that NMCC youth programs provide a wonderful framework within which to teach our children how to be good Christians.  We hope that some of what they learn here will continue to guide them as caring, involved adults.  After all, someday they will be the teachers and church leaders.

What makes our youth programs special?

 I’m not sure if special is the right word.  Everyone who volunteers with children does this from their heart and each would call their particular program special.  What I will say is that our youth programs accurately reflect what we as a congregation value and hold dear.  They concentrate on relationships and on understanding how God plays a role in all of our lives, whether we are 6, 16 or 60 years old.  Our programs strive for applicability . . . take-home thoughts that can be reflected upon and practiced throughout the week, not just during that lesson or meeting.

How has being a member of NMCC made a difference in your lives?

 Being a member here has grounded us.  Our spirituality has grown throughout these 13 years.  We have a calm sense of faith.  We believe that God will provide and that all that happens in our lives should happen.  Our lives are a journey and NMCC has helped us to better find our way.