Pastor: Joel E. Shirk – Pastor

Joel has been married to his wife, Jacqueline for 32 years. Jacqueline is a RN who has worked at Elim Park for over 11 years. Together they have three children, the oldest of whom, their daughter Jamie, is married to Scott Pinney of New Britain. They have two sons, David, who lives in Memphis and Taylor, who lives at home.

Joel received his call to ministry as a 12 year old during a hymn sing in a Baptist church in Middlebury, CT. “Give of your best to the Master; give of the strength of your youth” are the lyrics the Lord used to challenge his tender heart, to which Joel said, “I will.” God multiplied his abilities in music, leadership and knowledge of the Word during his adolescent years.

After graduating from Davidson College (NC) with a degree in philosophy, Joel volunteered in youth ministry at Middlebury Baptist Church, where God’s grace was first revealed to him. That volunteer position became a part time job. A full time position with Youth for Christ, a national youth outreach ministry, opened up. For 3 years Joel pioneered new works in local communities until a full time Youth Pastor position at Christ Community Church of Cheshire became available in 1985.

Joel incorporated worship leading into the youth ministry as well as into congregational life, writing and arranging songs for congregational worship. He has written songs and arranged hymns, compiled on a CD, You Rescued Me, released in 2003. He also earned his Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (SCSU), expanding his ministry to teens to their families.

In 1989-91, Christ Community had a transition in leadership which resulted in the Senior pastor planting a new work in town. Joel volunteered to fill in the gap as Interim Pastor until they found someone; 7 months later, Joel was unanimously voted in as Senior Pastor. The Lord granted favor, unity and growth for 10 years before a multitude of difficulties arose. Joel resigned in May of 2006.

Since then, Joel has started several businesses: a painting business called, Many Colors (after the story of Joseph) and he is a Marketing Distributor with Send Out Cards, a free on line system that allows you to send a heartfelt card from your computer through the mail. He preaches and leads worship at various churches on an as needed basis, and leads a Bible study in a home in Cheshire.

Elders: Alden Jenkins, Jim Kromidas, Rev. Gregg Woods

Staff: Lenora Woods, Directory of Ministry Resources/Treasurer; Lori Erdos, Secretary