By SHERON C. PATTERSON
North Texas Connection Editor
From left, front row: George Fisk, Richard Dunagin, Bishop Michael McKee, Christy Thomas, Carol Somers-Clark, and Henry Masters. Back row: Jerry Colgrove, David Carr, Fred Durham, Rusty Hedges, and David Yunker. Not pictured: George Bond, Elwin “Sam” Campbell, John Thornton, and Natalie Woods.
Some of this year’s retirees updated the NTC Connection on their plans, recalled their favorite memories from their careers and offered advice for those new to the ministry.
GEORGE FISK will be a part-time associate on the staff of White Rock UMC to help with the transition and mentor Mitchell Boone, the new pastor. Fisk also will be fishing with his kids and grandkids.
Favorite memory: My favorite ministry moment was my last Sunday at the Fellowship United Methodist Church in Trophy Club. The church honored me with a wonderful worship service and then they led me into the parking lot where they presented me a bass boat as a going-away present!
Advice: Take a study leave early in your ministry. It can be a valuable experience that will shape who you are and what you do for the rest of your ministry.
JOHN THORNTON plans to
work part time on the staff at
Creekwood UMC and to enjoy
more time for personal activities
and family events.
Favorite memory: Relocating and
building the new church at Wylie
UMC. I especially remember the
Sunday in December that we gathered
in the elementary school where
we had been meeting temporarily,
and then we walked together as a
congregation and crossed over a
fairly busy road as we moved into
the new worship center in the new
church building. The police department
blocked off the road for the entire
church community to walk across
the road and enter the new building
that was already decorated for the
Advent and Christmas season.
Advice: Developing strong friends in
ministry that can support you in good
and bad times and help you grow
spiritually is very important to your
long-term spiritual health as a pastor.
DAVID YUNKER plans to sleep
in on a Sunday morning — not
skipping church but worship
will be a retirement joy. He
intends to stay involved in ministry
wherever he is. He wants
to spend time with his grandson
Hagan and golf and fish at his
favorite spots on Lake Manitou
in Rochester, Ind.
Favorite memory: I thank God for
each one of the many moments that
were created on my journey, and
treasure them as they all continue
to bring beauty to a memorable
ministry, with many memorable
people, filled with unforgettable
Advice: You should never be surprised
by what happens next. As
you travel the winding, twisting
road of itinerancy, embrace the
journey. Most important, always,
in all things at all times, seek
truth. Search for truth both in your
activities, be it administration,
never-ending church meetings,
sermon preparation, or pastoral
ministry, and in yourself. In truth
there is love and in love there is
forgiveness, and both are necessary
for ministry. Love your congregations,
even the unlovable.
Realize that with this comes hurt
and disappointment. But if you let
truth and love prevail, forgiveness
overcomes the hurt and builds
possibilities out of disappointment.
Finally, never lose your
passion; enjoy the journey.
CHRISTY THOMAS sensed
God leading her into an early
retirement to concentrate
more fully on her ministry
through the written word.
Also, she will travel and
spend time with her far-flung
family and friends. “Essentially,
I’m couch surfing
around the world,” she says.
Favorite memory: A few weeks
ago, I saw some people I had been
in ministry with at a church
several appointments earlier,
and the joy of seeing them and
being reminded of the riches of
our times together only added to
an overflowing memory bank of
special moments. I simply loved
being a pastor and found it a
source of never-ending privilege.
Advice: Know yourself. Know
the center of your theology and
the core of your call, and live
with faithfulness to that. Do
not compromise those essential
parts of our soul to be liked
or affirmed by your congregation
or others in your ministry
settings. Be strong and courageous,
and follow Jesus no matter
where that may lead — and
that may be the cross. Never,
ever forget that after the death
and despair of Good Friday,
Easter follows and builds possibilities
out of disappointment.
Never lose your passion; enjoy
RICHARD DUNAGIN will teach
online courses for Fuller Seminary.
He plans to write, as well
as learn to paint and produce
videos. His main joy in life is
his family, to whom he will be
able to say for the first time,
“Sure, I’d love to do that weekend
trip with you to the beach.”
Favorite memory: I loved baptizing
an 84-year old man who finally came
to faith in his last year of life. I was
delighted when a racist congregation
in a small, racist town began to
welcome black kids into their after-
school ministry. I marveled when
a young man informed me that he
was going into the ministry because
he overheard a private conversation
I had with a fellow minister as we
agonized over the spiritual condition
of our youth.
Advice: God has called you to serve
the church, not to be its lord. So
be pleased just to serve. Second,
even ministers do not get to stand in
judgment over the Word, it stands
in judgment over us. Therefore, stay
true to the plain teachings of Scripture,
regardless of the fashions and
trends of society, no matter how
powerful those may seem today. So
let the Word define both you and
HENRY MASTERS plans on
writing, teaching, traveling and
“bowing to the demands” of his
grandkids. He plans significant
involvement in Africa University
and historically black colleges,
in addition to working on
enhancing ecumenical efforts in
the Dallas area.
Favorite memory: One of my favorite
moments in ministry was not
in giving ministry but in receiving
it. Our youngest daughter, Mia, was
born while we served at Hamilton
Park. From the time Dianna was in
the hospital, our family received
what we often call these days radical
hospitality. There were people like
Tiny and Jack, Mrs. Caver, Velma,
Mrs. Bailey and a host of others who
literally took full care of our family.
We learned early that ministry is
not just about giving your best but
having the capacity to receive. This
is valuable lesson.
Advice: My hope is that young pastors
will help turn this ship (church)
toward a more hopeful future. Help
save the church by first saving
yourself from the seduction of culture-
based spirituality promising
prosperity, popularity, success and
liberation — the American way. Don’t
squeeze the Jesus way into the American
way. That is culture over Christ,
which is why we are where we are.
Young pastors, help the church find a
better way — the Jesus way.
SAM CAMPBELL plans on
preaching, teaching and playing
music. “I sit almost daily
with my banjo and sing praises
to God and thank Him for the
blessings and the struggles I
have received,” he said.
Favorite memory: When my beloved
Debbie [his wife] first stood
with her bass fiddle and sang “How
Great Thou Art” with me. I was so
Advice: A simple statement: “And
every day, in the Temple and in their
homes, they continued to teach and
preach this message: The Messiah
you are looking for is Jesus.” (Acts