Church welcomes new forward-looking pastor


In her first sermon as interim pastor at the Riverdale Presbyterian Church, the Rev. Krystin Granberg delivered a message of moving forward and leaving the past behind.

The Ten Commandments were “not set up to ostracize us or to be law-enforced,” she said. “It’s a code given to us as a way to breathe and live into the beings God has created us to be, in community and relationship with one another.”

Moving forward is exactly what Granberg hopes to do as she takes on leadership of the Henry Hudson Parkway church, even for the time being. Her sermon caps off a more than six-month interim pastor search, which now shifts to finding a more permanent leader.

Granberg’s message of new ways to look at established ideas and challenging the congregation to look inside themselves for answers is exactly why Riverdale Presbyterian hired her.

“What is that world we want to imagine?” Granberg asked the congregation during her opening sermon. “What is that vision God is giving to you, the people of Riverdale, to all of us, even as a nation or a world of all of God’s creative universe?”

During Granberg’s expected two-year tenure, her “mission is to look at the whole church and see where we are at this moment, see what needs to be strengthened,” said Kenneth McGuire, a member of the interim pastor search committee.

“She will become head of staff, which means she will look at the staff we have,” he said. “She will sit with them and see where they are with their work, look through the congregation, and hopefully bring a more cohesiveness to the congregation.”

McGuire’s search committee knew they had the right person when Granberg “flipped” the job interview, using it as an opportunity to learn more about the committee members and the staff she would lead, said Laura Gourdine, another committee member.

“She was asking us questions about our faith, our spiritual journey, and it really helped us get to know each other in a different way,” Gourdine said. “It helped us get even closer, get more specific about why we are here, why we’re still connected to this church and God. She’s very conscious about what she’s doing and she’s very good at stimulating conversation.”

The committee looked for “someone to really energize the congregation and really incentivize us to get together and stick to our mission and continue to encourage us to keep our doors open and do our work,” Gourdine added.
During Granberg’s time, Gourdine wants the church to expand its core membership, bringing more youth and families into the congregation.

Rebecca Dyasi, the committee’s president, described Granberg as someone who would lead and “sit alongside us” as the congregation plans its future.

Granberg, working to guide members, helping them develop their mission and deepen their relationship with God is a spiritual calling.

“As an interim pastor, she gets the chance to “go to different places seeing how worship happens, how people understand ministry, how they live out their faith.”

Before joining Riverdale Presbyterian, Granberg served as interim pastor at Huguenot Memorial Church in Pelham, and Jan Hus and Broadway Presbyterian churches in Manhattan. Granberg, originally from Elizabeth, New Jersey, became an ordained minister more than 20 years ago.

“The ministry goes beyond any particular person,” Granberg said. “It’s really the community of faith that takes the action together.

“It’s really God’s presence in their lives that matters, particularly as Christians to understand who Jesus and God were, and still are.”