'Keep that fire going' - New minister at Milford church hopes to build up youth program

MILFORD — When the new minister of Milford’s United Presbyterian Church looks at teens, he sees passion and a desire to make a difference in the world.

“When I hang out with the teenagers, there’s so much passion that they have — a passion to change things, to see whatever injustices or whatever is going on the world, they see it and they say, ‘I want to change it,’” said the Rev. Stephen Scovell, 29. “It’s really inspiring to be around them. As we get older, it can become easy to become complacent with the way things are.”

He said he would like to instill in young people the message not to lose their passion as they go through college and young adulthood.

“Keep that fire going because they do have the ability to make the world a better place than it is,” he said.

Creating a strong youth program at the Milford church is one of Scovell’s goals. In his last position as youth and family ministries director/contemporary music director at Thompson Memorial Presbyterian Church in New Hope, Pa., he said he spent a lot of time building up the church’s youth program.

When he first got involved with the program, there were four or five children in it.

“My wife and I got to work. We spent time developing a program where kids feel safe to talk about what they need to, to have fun, and feel appreciated and loved,” said Scovell. “We got to know teenagers and walk with them and journey with them through whatever they were going through, through high school and middle school.”

By the time he left Thompson, a congregation of more than 300 members, the program had tripled in size. Scovell said he would love to create a similar type of program at United Presbyterian. The church, located on Seaside Ave., has about 70 members.

Before Scovell came on board, Rev. Carleton Giles of Milford was serving as interim pastor of United Presbyterian, which is on Seaside Avenue and has 70 members. The church’s prior pastor, Rev. Annmarie Meyerhoffer, served for 11 years.

Scovell is a 2020 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary with a Master’s in Christian Education. In addition to his work at United Presbyterian, he serves as a chaplain at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. He and his wife Amber have a 1-year-old-son named Parker.

Getting involved in the Milford community is another goal for Scovell in his new position.

“One of the things that attracted me to this church in the first place is their commitment to serving those in need. There is a strong drive to serve and to show love and compassion to people that really drew me in when I first interviewed,” Scovell said. “I’m looking forward to being involved in the community and serving in whatever ways I can.”

Growing up in New Jersey, Scovell said he was influenced by his father, who is also a Presbyterian minister.

“My father has always been a huge influence in my life. He is one of the most compassionate and empathetic people I know, and he instilled in me, from a young age, the importance of caring about other people,” Scovell said. “I watched the way he ministered to our congregation and how he constantly exhibited grace and love to people who needed it. His love for others shaped a lot of how I see the world and God, and it was an important part of discerning my call to ministry.”

While United Presbyterian is small, according to Scovell, there is a lot of energy and a desire to grow the community, he said. The church also has a unique family feel, he said.

“They want to get to know everyone,” Scovell said. “When you come here, we want to get to know you for who you are as an individual. It’s a very loving community. Right now, we look to one another for love and compassion to support one another in the ways we can. That’s the way that we can best represent the church, to help one another in whatever ways we need to.”