The rector of historic St. George’s Episcopal Church has departed to take a new position as pastor of All Saints Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California.
Rev. Imlijungla Sojwal was known to St. George’s members as Mother Ajung, Rev. Ajung, or simply “Ajung.” She began her ministry there in March 2019.
The prior rector, Rev. Allister Rawlins, had retired in 2016 after 17 years at St. George’s. Rev. Frederic Miller served as interim pastor 2017-2019.
In Sept. 2019, the Right Rev. Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of Long Island, presided over Rev. Sojwal’s formal installation at St. George’s. The packed event was attended by community political figures as well as Sojwal’s extended family.
The historic rectory at the corner of Peninsula Blvd. and Greenwich Street was renovated to accommodate Sojwal and her husband, Milind Sojwal.
Only the interior of the rectory was modified. The exterior was preserved because the 1793 building is a designated historic location. Keeping the protective historic status required that the rectory’s outside appearance be maintained.
As soon as the Sojwals took up occupancy in the rectory, they opened it to the congregation for prayer luncheons and organizational meetings. But the Covid-19 pandemic shut down all public gatherings in March of 2020.
Sojwal immediately established Sunday services and Lenten Friday prayer meetings via Zoom. She kept congregation members engaged in the services by arranging for them to take turns presenting Lenten meditations and uploading recorded hymns.
During the pandemic years, with the help of Facilities Manager William Johnson, Sojwal oversaw the $40,000 replacement of the 531-foot white wooden fence that borders two-thirds of the 500-grave churchyard surrounding St. George’s. The rest of the churchyard is enclosed by a high cement wall that was erected in 1927.
Johnson and the Brotherhood of St. Andrew also helped Sojwal with arrangements for complete replacement of the antiquated fire alarm system. The two-year process involved both the 200-year-old church building and Regan Hall, the large attached 1957 education building.
Under Sojwal’s leadership, the congregation rebounded from the pandemic closures, and a highly experienced organist and choir leader, Valerie Fassbender, was brought on board.
Sojwal informed the vestry and congregation on Jan. 14, 2023, that she had answered the call to a new pastorate in Palo Alto. She administered her last Sunday Eucharist at St. George’s on Feb. 19. The service was followed immediately by a banquet in Regan Hall.
At the banquet, Deputy Town Supervisor Dorothy L. Goosby gave Sojwal a beautiful citation from the Town of Hempstead for her service to the Hempstead community.
Rev. Dr. Sean Wallace will lead St. George’s as interim rector starting March 5.