The Rev. Charles C. Close, pastor of the Canaan Congregational Church in Canaan, NY, died on Thursday, April 23, 2020 after a brief illness. His loss comes on top of many others for the small Southern New England Conference church: three other men active in the life of the congregation have passed since the church stopped in-person worship in March, although none were lost to COVID-19.
In addition, the church lost its building to a fire in the fall of 2017; they constructed a new building and moved back in December, 2019.
Associate Conference minister Jill Graham met with the congregation via Zoom following their pastor’s death. During the month of May, Quentin Chin – Interim Pastor at First Congregational Church of Southampton – will offer online worship with the congregation each Sunday.
Rev. Close – Charlie – was well known around the Conference, having served many congregations throughout the New England area including Immanuel Community Church, Concord NH; Central Congregational Church, Orange, MA; Union Congregational Church, Rockville CT; North Falmouth Congregational Church, North Falmouth MA; and Wilbraham United Church, Wilbraham MA; before coming to the Canaan church. He led congregations in a variety of settings and valued each one as unique and beautiful.
He was the beloved husband of the Rev. Jane Tanaskovic Brady-Close, devoted father of Jennifer Close-Conlon (Josh Conlon) and Steven Close (fiancée Lisa Reburn), grandfather of David, Xander, Aylah, and Samuel. Charlie is also survived by his loving sister Joy Close (Susan O’Loughlin), nieces, a nephew, and cousins. Charlie was predeceased by his wife Karen Mackie Close, son David Charles Close, and sister Elizabeth Close.
Born the son of Charles Walker and Betsy Cade Close, Charlie grew up in Levittown, NY, and Wellesley, MA. He was a graduate of Boston University School of Education, and Andover-Newton Theological School (MDiv, DMin), where he was a member of the Jonathan Edwards Honor Society.
Charlie’s greatest delight was time with family and friends. He also appreciated music, theater, design, and the beauty of the natural world. He relished people and gatherings and offering the hospitality of his home. He loved to sing and play the guitar, had a stellar wit, and was a true and faithful friend. Charlie had the gift of warmth and was a calming presence, serving many as wise counsel and witness through life’s moments and challenges. His life was a testimony to God’s love and grace.
Prior to his seminary education, Charlie was a special needs teacher for the Ipswich MA, public schools, camp waterfront director, swimming instructor and coach. He was an advocate for the needs of others, serving in a faithful, kind, professional, and hands-on manner, rooted in his sense of the binding of heart and soul in covenantal relationships and in prayerful discernment.
Active in the broader United Church of Christ, he served on the Massachusetts Conference Board of Directors, in leadership roles in the Barnstable and Franklin Associations, and as consultant for Partners in Education. He also served his beloved Star Island Community on the Star Island Corporation Board of Directors and Finance Committee, and as a long-standing All Star I Conference Minister and teacher. Some years ago, Charlie wrote: “Well, I’ve led some pretty spectacular services, speaking to hundreds of people, and hearing incredible music. But my most meaningful experiences happen in those quite moments where God’s love and grace shine through.”
Those who so desire may make donations in memory of Charlie to the Star Island Annual Fund, Morton-Benedict House, 30 Middle Street, Portsmouth NH 03801 (Star Island being a place of refreshment and learning for generations of the Close family) or to Canaan Congregational Church, PO Box 66, Canaan NY 12029 (Charlie’s congregation at the time of his death, where he lovingly led them in their efforts to rebuild following a devastating fire).
The interment at Belleville Cemetery, in Newburyport, MA will be private due to COVID-19 social distancing and gathering limitations. Plans for a memorial service will be shared when we are all able to gather again and enjoy a celebration of his life.