WINDSOR – Sometimes life throws you a curve ball. The Rev. Richard H. Huleatt knows that.
He was going to be a professional baseball player one day, not a preacher.
Huleatt was a proud Hartford Hawk for four years, playing shortstop and third base. But the scouts didn’t come, so he fell back on studies.
But Huleatt, a history major, was much more intrigued by the handful of philosophy classes he had taken.
History classes, he said, taught about the past, but that wasn’t enough for Huleatt.
“There was no discussion about what to do about it,” he said. “Philosophy classes began to raise questions.”
Again though, he couldn’t find any answers.
So, at the suggestion of one of his professors, Huleatt, enrolled in seminary to ease his inquisitive mind.
Huleatt, pastor of The First Church in Windsor, wasn’t raised in a religious home. His family, he said, was Easter Sunday and Christmas Christians. He and his three siblings were raised in West Hartford, where his father worked as a pediatrician and his mother worked as a school nurse.
Huleatt, 59, didn’t follow in his parent’s footsteps, but noted that he comes from a family of healers. He has two siblings working in the medical field, and one of his brothers is living in a religious community.
At Andover Newton Theology School, Huleatt met his wife, Susan, who was then also enrolled in seminary. She now works as a social worker in West Hartford.
Huleatt discovered he was going to become a pastor while he was a seminarian. Per school requirement, he was working at a United Church of Christ church in Harvard, Mass., and fell in love with the ministry.
“I loved working with the people and I loved the academic part of it,” he said. “I love how it all came together.”
He added that loving people has always made him tick.
One of his passions has always been equal rights. Old, young, gay, straight, transgender, black, white, Hispanic – Huleatt welcomes all people to his church.
“He’s very accepting and very warm,” he said. “We have a deep spiritual connection together.”
Lefkowitz said that because of 12-year friendship with Huleatt, he’s learned how to be more tolerant and how to lead an interfaith ministry.
The biggest challenge for the church today, Huleatt said, is how to keep the traditions of the church, yet move the church forward at the same time.
“He’s concerned about the future and he talks about it. He’s open to looking at what will work for people,” Lefkowitz said. “He’s a mentor and he’s there to help people grow.”
The first church Huleatt shepherded was in a small New York town of 400 people. He’s since served at a church in Suffield, CT. and in Saco, Maine. He’s been at First Church, which is the oldest church in Connecticut, for 12 years.
The Huleatts enjoy traveling together and the pastor enjoys gardening, walking and riding his bike. He can often be seen strolling to the church by foot from his home in downtown Windsor.
For information on The First Church, visit its Web site.
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