The Rev. Nicholas Granitsas, pastor of the First Congregational Church, Revere, is retiring on Aug. 31 after 46 years of service to the church.
“The people in my church usually call me ‘Pastor Nick’ and the people in the community call ‘Reverend Nick’ so that’s usually what I go by,” said the Rev. Granitsas in an example of the great, personal relationship he has enjoyed with parishioners and residents alike.
Asked why he was retiring at this time, the beloved spiritual leader replied, “It’s time. I’m going to be 71 on Aug. 23 and we have a younger guy [Associate Pastor Tim Bogertman] who’s been with me for 13 years and it’s his time to lead. He will be the Senior Pastor as of Sept. 1.”
The Rev. Granitsas started at the church on July 1, 1974.
“The church was very small when I came here,” said the Rev. Granitsas. “Above half the congregation was born in the 1800s when I came here. One of my regular attendees was born in 1881 and she faithfully came to the church every week. The church has been in this location since 1849, but our original church building is where the Revere Counseling Center is located on Beach Street. The original First Congregation Church was built in 1710 and that’s the oldest church building in Suffolk County.”
The Rev. Granitsas grew up in Marlborough and graduated from Harvard College. He continued his education at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Wenham.
“I came to Revere when I was 24 and there was a small congregation and they decided to take a shot with a young guy,” said the Rev. Granitsas. “I preached a service at the church, met with all the people, and they conducted a congregational vote and they voted to call me.”
It was between his high school and college years that the Rev. Granitsas decided to enter the clergy.
“It was during that summer after high school, I was really thinking about my future and I had really come to have a really strong faith in high school and I believed God was calling me into the ministry and it was confirmed by a lot of other people I spoke to. So when I started at Harvard, I was actually headed to the ministry but I was there as a regular student – I wasn’t studying theology, but I did take some courses at the Harvard Divinity School.”
The Rev. Granitsas said he is leaving “a very vibrant, very vital congregation that is very involved in the community.”
The Revere Food Pantry has become a much-needed facility in Revere. Its service during the COVID-19 pandemic was outstanding and helped many Revere residents.
“We’ve been running the Food Pantry for 37 years and the last four to five months, it’s been vital to Revere,” said the Rev. Granitsas.
Mayor Brian Arrigo, who volunteered at the Food Pantry as a student at Revere High School, said that the Rev. Granitsas was a “wonderful personal influence” in his life.
“For 46 years, Reverend Nick Granitsas has personified the idea of charity, public service, and community spirituality in Revere,” said Mayor Arrigo. “ In whatever way he could serve the community, he did. On a personal level, Reverend Nick was a wonderful personal influence for me, as I volunteered at the Food Pantry under his leadership, and I learned some very basic values of generosity and public service. Reverend Nick’s departure will leave a void in his spiritual community, for sure, and it will have an equivalent effect throughout our city. Reverend Nick always will be regarded as an icon of public service. We wish Reverend Nick a healthful and fulfilling future, and for sure he will always have a welcome place here in the City of Revere.”
During his ministry, The Rev. Granitsas supervised bible study and prayer groups and worked with youth and young adult groups. First Congregational also has ministries at area nursing homes and has conducted English As A Second Language classes.
“We had 110 students from 17 different countries in the classes,” said the Rev. Granitsas. “We’ve been doing it for about a dozen years. We also do a Caring Hearts Ministry which is a ministry to help the homeless population with their different needs.”
First Congregational’s “Reach The Beach” summer program has helped the church unite with 17 other churches in the area.
The Rev. Granitsas said he has confidence in his successor, the Rev. Tim Bogertman. “He’s a great guy. He’s a really, good solid man. I’m very proud of him. He came here when he was 29 years old. I’ve seen him develop all the wonderful gifts that he has and he’s going to do a great job.”
A farewell celebration had been planned for the Rev. Granitsas, but it was postponed due to the coronavirus.
“I’m going to absolutely miss the parishioners,” he said. “I’m very sad about leaving them. I just know it’s time. I know It’s the right thing to do so I’m doing it, but not because I’m looking forward to it.”