New Pastor Hopes to Help College Students Find a Community

Pastor Gabriel with his wife Sangeetha and their daughter Keren outside of Hope Church.  Photo courtesy of Phil Secke.

Pastor Gabriel with his wife Sangeetha and their daughter Keren outside of Hope Church. Photo courtesy of Phil Secke.

Among the new arrivals to Storrs this semester is Pastor Gem Gabriel of the Hope Lutheran Church on Dog Lane. 

Pastor Gabriel comes from a city in India dubbed “the Oxford of South India,” and grew up around Anglican missionaries that were originally brought over by the British. He has spent his life spreading the gospel around Asia but recently became the pastor at Hope. 

Pastor Gabriel sees the church as a welcoming community for all students to seek comfort through faith. He hopes to build that community during his tenure as pastor. 

“My hope is that most students come and experience it. Maybe one line in a song would be comforting because students are far from home, miss their parents, their favorite food, their favorite bed. So this is a community; we are here to love them, we are here to embrace them, we are here to be there as an extended family away from their real family. I would like to extend that invitation to every student in UConn,” Gabriel said. 

This is consistent with his lifelong effort to help people both in and out of the church through his outreach organization Giant Killer Communications. 

Hope Lutheran Church welcomes Pastor Gabriel to the UConn community.  Photo courtesy of Phil Secke.

Hope Lutheran Church welcomes Pastor Gabriel to the UConn community. Photo courtesy of Phil Secke.

“[I was] reaching out to people, helping out people. Not just populating the church but helping people in general without having to force them to come to church. Not, ‘If I help you you need to come to church,’ no. Truly just to reach out a hand,” Gabriel said. 

Pastor Gabriel wants to make Hope a beacon for those in need. He believes all people have something they can contribute to making the church community and the UConn community a better place. 

“God gives gifts to everyone.” Gabriel said. “There’s not a person in the world who’s come into the world empty. Either a person can cook well, or person can talk well, or a person is good at music or good at accounting or they smile and people just like them. These are gifts that can be used at our church at Hope.” 

Services are Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 62 Dog Lane. 


Kazi Iqbal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at kazi.iqbal@uconn.edu.