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May 25, 2020

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Clergy Chat with Rev. Wayne Albertson

Former pastor of Ada First United Methodist Church

Compiled by Darlene Bowers

My favorite Bible story is what is commonly called ‘Doubting Thomas,’ but it is not so much about intellectual belief as it is about the ability of those who are wounded and vulnerable in life being able to move through the barriers of fear and bring peace and compassion to others in need.

Rev. Wayne Albertson
Richfield, Minnesota
Previously at First United Methodist Church in Ada

When did you serve the Ada pastorate?
I served the First United Methodist Church in Ada from  June 1999 to June 2011.

Where are you now?
My wife, Fern, and I moved to the Twin Cities (Richfield, Minnesota) to be close to our granddaughters for whom we provide occasional care and pampering. Both our sons, our daughter-in-law, and granddaughters all live within three miles of us.

We would never have expected this. We enjoy the nature centers and parks, take in the wondrous breadth of music in the area, volunteer at the U of Minnesota Arboretum, participate actively in a quite vital and diverse congregation (Richfield UMC) as well as some community groups (e.g., garden club, poetry reading, and more). We also read and write year round, and shovel our drive in the winter.

What are your degrees?
Places of mind-expansion for me include: Columbia High School (East Greenbush, N.Y., 1963); Michigan State University, B.A., 1967; Methodist Theological School in Ohio, M.Div., 1970; Princeton Theological Seminary, PhD, 1992.

How long did you serve in the ministry?
I am privileged to have had 42 years of appointed service in the West Ohio Annual Conference of the UMC.

What congregations did you serve?
Third Avenue UMC, 1969-1970, (Columbus); Clark Street UMC (1970-1976) and Wesley UMC (1976-1981) [both in Toledo]; Yellow Springs UMC, 1981-1987; Appointed to attend school [PTS], 1987-1991; Amanda UMC, 1991-1992; Grace UMC (Norwood), 1992-1995; Sabina UMC 1995-1999; First UMC (Ada), 1999-2011; Retirement, 2011.

All churches are in Ohio. Third Avenue, Clark Street, Wesley, and Grace are inner city or changing neighborhood churches; Amanda and Sabina are farm town churches; and Yellow Springs and Ada are college town churches.

I feel very privileged for the variety (economically, ethnically, educationally, and politically) of contexts in which to serve (and in which we were fortunate to raise our children).

How did you come to be a clergyperson?
There is a collage of persons and experiences that crystallized both the vision and decision, the calling to which I committed.

My hometown minister was a very disciplined Biblical preacher. My first summer boss in a poverty area of Albany, N.Y., was exquisite in teaching and manifesting how the gospel of Christ’s love brought reconciliation and hope into difficult lives.

My mother had an instantaneous sympathy for vulnerable persons in difficulty. And, my father (a medicinal chemist) would ask me questions of life’s meaning (Do we have free will? Does God exist? Are we shaped more by genes or by our environment) as a teenager.

I almost was a chemist, but I think I followed my father’s footsteps more deeply by trying to be part of persons’ lives and their explorations of meaning, purpose, relationships, and their humanity at that trusted level that only a holy grace allows.

What sermon topic or message always excites you to share it?
Rev. Stan Moore, my hometown minister would say that God always had something new to be revealed in any given Scripture, no matter how often one had preached from it.

He would say it was good for a preacher not to preach the same sermon more than once. So, while I do think that all preachers (and others) have ‘life-themes’, what excites me is not any particular topic, but the experience of discovery in relating Scripture and life.

Share your best or most memorable clergy moment with us.
Again, let me avoid answering with a specifically named event or topic. What were the most privileged and humbling experiences of ministry for me were those times when I was trusted with the vulnerability of person’s lives. As I look at the stories in the gospels of those who related to Jesus, this is what Jesus offered to them and I am extremely grateful to have experienced the profoundness of such trust.

What do you miss about Ada?
There is a passel of people, of course; visits in trailer parks, hospitals, ONU offices, and homes; teaching religion classes and contact with students; and biking, and the Christmas eve service).

What hobbies, interests and activities do you participate and enjoy?
In addition to those items mentioned above, we travel (Iceland and Sweden in 2016) and camp and canoe (the Boundary Waters) quite a bit, grow flowers and vegetables, take pictures, and “march it out” with good friends in Silver Sneakers.

What is your favorite Bible verse(s)? 
"God has placed eternity into our minds, yet not so we can see what God is doing from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3 v.11; RSV) and

“We are more than conquerors through Him who loved(s) us” (Romans 8 v.37)

and which, to me, is helped in meaning by reading “We are other than conquerors . . . ” The OT verse has to do with that holy mystery that abides in every experience in life and pulls us to look for what is God’s ultimate purpose in that moment; the NT verse tells us that, immersed in the grace of God, we need not relate on any hierarchical basis whatsoever, and that ‘conquering is a minor experience in life.’

My favorite Bible story is what is commonly called ‘Doubting Thomas,’ but it is not so much about intellectual belief as it is about the ability of those who are wounded and vulnerable in life being able to move through the barriers of fear and bring peace and compassion to others in need.

What would your previous Ada congregation be amused to learn about you? 
The Pittsburgh Steeler fans in First UMC who teased me unmercifully about being a Cleveland Browns fan would be surprised to learn that Ernie Stautner was a childhood neighbor and built some of our neighbors’ houses in the off-season. Otherwise, after the time I spent there, the folks know a lot about which they are amused.

Is there anything else you wish to share?
Well, I have already written enough, except to say that ministry in Ada and beyond was an incredible privilege and bringer of gratitude. Soli Deo Gloria [Glory to God alone].

Thanks, Rev. Albertson, for sharing and providing us with an update on your activities and ministries.