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Ex-NH minister consoles Newtown

New Hampshire Union Leader

December 14. 2012 8:19PM

Martha Crebbin was waiting anxiously in her Newtown, Conn., home Friday for her four children to get home from school, after the shooting rampage that left 27 dead, including 20 schoolchildren at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The former Hancock resident was grateful that none of her children attend Sandy Hook, but she was shaken by the violence.

"The day has gotten worse and worse as we find out the news, as terrible as it is," she said.

While she waited for her children, she knew that her husband, The Rev. Matthew S. Crebbin, was at the Sandy Hook firehouse with other clergy from the area consoling grief-stricken parents and the children taken there for protection.

"I actually don't know the full extent of it at this point," she said. "My husband is actually over there, and I'm very scared, honestly, to find out the full extent because we will know soon enough. We will all know the people affected, and it will affect everyone."

The Crebbin family moved from Hancock to Newtown in the fall of 2007, when Rev. Crebbin took a new assignment as senior pastor at Newtown Congregational Church. The family has four children, ages 15, 13, 10 and 7.

"We don't have any children at the school where this happened," said Martha Crebbin, "but we have students at the high school, middle school, intermediate school and one of the elementary schools."

All schools were locked down, and then released at the regularly scheduled time once law enforcement officials determined there was no longer a threat. "I'm sure they didn't want to send buses home at an earlier time because the town is just in total disruption," she said.

The Crebbin family is well-known throughout the Monadnock region, as the Rev. Crebbin had served as pastor at the First Congregational Church in Hancock since 1995.

"I had been there almost 12 years exactly, and had started to think about moving," he told the Newtown Bee in an interview published Nov. 15, 2007, just before his installation as pastor on Nov. 18. "I still have good relations with the church community in New Hampshire. It's smaller up there; this (Newtown) certainly offers new opportunities for me and my family."

Rev. Crebbin was chosen for the position at the Newtown church, which has a congregation of 338, after a two-year search, and was the unanimous choice of the search committee.

A native of California, he received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his master's of divinity degree from the Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, Mass.

Lauren Carney of Hancock, and her husband David, were friends with the Crebbin family during their years in Hancock. Their children grew up together, said Lauren Carney.

"My daughter and their oldest girl are just a few months apart, and they are still in touch" she said. "So after school today I talked to my daughter and she reached out to make sure they were all OK."

"Great news our former pastor and his family are safe and sound," David Carney tweeted as the day went on. "Prayers are still needed for the other families."

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