One of the oldest local churches gets new pastor with different perspective
IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. – On a Sunday morning, Pastor Paul Grenier greeted the members of his new church, United Church of Christ on Titus Avenue in Irondequoit.
He was hired last week. Grenier grew up in New Jersey, but his parents are from the Midwest and the north, so he feels at home.
“I was very thrilled the other day when I was at a restaurant and someone asked me if I’d like some pop, and I realized I’m back in pop country, rather than soda,” said Grenier.
Grenier is completely blind in his left eye and has tunnel vision in his right eye.
“Which means I can’t see my hands right now, but only when they’re right in front of me.,”
He reads with the help of a device the size of a smart phone.
“So, when I open a book, in order to read it, I do that,” said Grenier.
Brean: Do people ask you about that? Do you talk about it?
Grenier: I talk about it if people ask me about it. As I’ve gotten older people seem to be afraid. When I was a kid people would always ask, but now people are always worried about offending me.
His birth name is Christopher. He took the name Paul after the apostle who went blind after seeing Jesus. I asked him how his eyesight affects his ministry.
“Well ministry involves a lot of listening. Really hearing people. And, so I think, in some ways it helps that I’m not going to judge you on your appearance or anything like that. I just want to hear your story.”
Grenier said it helped when he ministered in hospitals.
“As soon as I walked into the room, the patients would know, oh he’s had problems like me.”
When I met Grenier on Friday, he was preparing a sermon for children.
He was born blind and without a nose. It’s an incredible rare disease that can cause brain damage and a very short life span. But now, he is 49, in his 10th year of ministry and in a brand-new place that feels like home.
“And, so my mission is to have a spot for the community where they can feel safe to come. To create community is really what this is about,” Grenier said.