For the last three decades, the Rev. Bryan Sirchio has operated a freelance itinerant musical ministry. But recently the 60-year-old felt it was time be less “itinerant and more grounded in a local community.”

Sirchio decided to ground himself at the McFarland United Church of Christ.

“When I learned about (this church), it just seemed like a great fit in terms of who they are as a congregation and how they see themselves and what the gospel means to them and what kind of community they want to be,” he said. “It felt like a good fit for me.”

He said the church’s mission of being inclusive and serving the community also drew him to the McFarland congregation.

His first official sermon at the McFarland UCC was Dec. 5, three days after his trial sermon at the church. Covenant members of the church voted Dec. 2 to accept Sirchio as the new pastor.

“I stepped right in to Advent and Christmas,” Sirchio said. “Everyone was great.”

He praised the leadership of former pastor Kerri Parker and interim pastor Michael Bausch for growing and nurturing the congregation.

“I feel very, very blessed to be stepping in to a healthy congregation, and I think we’re really poised to grow, and there’s a hunger here to deepen our sense of mission and our outreach to serve this community and beyond,” Sirchio said.

Sirchio previously served two smaller churches in Elcho and Kempster, located in northern Wisconsin, before beginning his freelance itinerant music ministry.

An ordained minister, he has a degree in religion with a concentration in psychology from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary.

In Sirchio’s 30 years in music ministry, he has released 15 CDs, four songbooks, study guides and one children’s book. He also began a company called the Convergence Music Project, a Christian music publishing businessfocusing on progressive theology, inclusive language and commitment to making the world more loving and just.

“Music keeps me young at heart,” said Sirchio, who has two adult children and seven grandchildren. “It spans all ages and languages.”

Aside from music, his other passion is the organization Haiti Allies, which he founded. Sirchio said the nonprofit group works with the poorest of the poor in the country.

As part of this program, Sirchio helped develop a factory in Haiti where the residents upcycle materials to create and sell items such as yoga mat bags, shopping bags and jewelry.

“It’s a source of biblically-based compassion and justice and solidarity there,” he said.

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