Outdoorsman Is New Pastor

The Rev. Bill Hoffmann settled into his new office at the Montauk Community Church this week. Janis Hewitt

    The Rev. Bill Hoffmann favors small towns and is used to cold winters. So he should be a good match for the Montauk Community Church, where he has been installed as its new pastor.
    Mr. Hoffmann, his wife, Valerie, and three daughters, the youngest of whom enrolled in the Montauk School yesterday, moved to the hamlet in early August from the Rochester (N.Y.) Community Church, where winters can be harsh, but still not as bad as was his time serving the ministry in Minnesota. “It cannot be any worse than that,” he said.
    Montauk is familiar to him. He grew up in Hicksville and visited Montauk in his early years and as a teen. He went fishing with his father and grandfather and with friends to the beach. But what he enjoyed most, he said, was hiking through the area’s wooded acreage.
    “As one who loves the outdoors, it’s certainly an amazing place to be,” he said. “I’m feeling pretty spoiled to look out my window and see the ocean right now.”
    Mr. Hoffmann and his wife were married almost 30 years ago, three days after he received an undergraduate degree in forestry. He became superintendent of Wisconsin’s state parks, but was always active in the church. Eventually, he began to sense a calling. “I was exploring if this was the right thing for me,” he said.
    Through prayer with his family and local pastor, he made the decision to attend a seminary in Kentucky.  When he graduated in 1996, he served in several upstate New York towns and also counseled prisoners incarcerated nearby.
    One day, while tinkering at the computer, he searched the Presbyterian Church’s network, mainly to catch up on friends. “I wasn’t looking to move,” he said. But he and his wife had thought that if an appointment came up in Montauk they should look into it.
    That is what happened. After meeting with the church’s research committee, the congregation voted unanimously to hire him in June. “It seemed like a good fit,” he said.
    Mr. Hoffmann said the Montauk church’s ecumenical spirit and the community’s closeness attracted him, adding that the almost oceanfront parsonage was also a draw. “It’s beautiful,” he said.
    As a hiker, he said he cannot wait to get out on the wooded trails and paths in the hamlet. Sitting at his desk with a computer open and stacks of books neatly on shelves, the new minister said he does house calls, as was evident from an overheard phone call. As for his ministry, he said he planned no quick changes.
    “I think it’s important for me to learn what’s important to [the congregation]. The things they have already in place are excellent. I’d just like to strengthen those relationships.”