News and Views

Doggett celebrates 101 years with memories of ministry and love

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By Melissa Lauber

In the Baltimore-Washington Conference Journal, there is a list of 794 ordained clergy members. At the top of the list is the Rev. Carroll Arthur Doggett, Jr., who was ordained in 1948. On March 23, 2024, he turned 101. 

Like every birthday, it was a time for celebration and remembrance. Remembering can be a sacred act. For the pastor in Doggett, his memories took him to the season when he was a teenager and asked to teach the boy’s Sunday School class at Appold Methodist Episcopal Church in Baltimore. 

His father worked on a trolley car and the family did not have enough money to even consider sending any of their three children to college. But the Sunday School superintendent, Walter Bowen, saw something in Doggett and asked if he had ever thought of being a minister. 

After some soul searching, Doggett began to experience a call to ministry, and Bowen paid for him to attend Western Maryland College in Westminster, with the thought of then going on to seminary.

At Western Maryland (now McDaniel College), Doggett said, his life was transformed in a remarkable way. He was helping to decorate for a Halloween party when his future wife, Nan Austin, approached him. She conducted the Christian Association on campus on Wednesday nights. He played the organ. She shared a list of hymns with him for the next gathering.

Doggett remembers waiting outside the dining hall for her to come out and asked if she wanted to take a walk with him. It was the beginning of a relationship that would span more than 75 years.

A member New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, where the famous Peter Marshall was the pastor, Nan suggested Doggett attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he was accepted on a full scholarship.

She finished up her college studies at nearby Barnard, also on scholarship.

While he never formally proposed, the two assumed they would be married – and they were. He got a job as a student pastor at Fisherman’s Church, which was started by fisherman in Brooklyn, one mile north of Coney Island 

The salary was $30 a week, $1,500 a year, Doggett said. But the couple got by and would ride the subway together from Brooklyn to their classes, getting off at the same stop and reading their textbooks as they rode along.

His first appointment in the Baltimore Conference was in 1948, to Stewartstown, a three-point charge. Five years later, he was asked to start a new church in Loch Raven. “It didn’t take long in those days to gather a congregation,” Doggett said. When he was re-appointed 12 years later, the church had 1,600 members. “It was a time of church growth.”

He went on to serve Millian Memorial Methodist Church; First Church in Hyattsville, which he grew to 3,000 members; and then was named by Bishop James K. Mathews to serve as superintendent of the Baltimore Southwest District. He retired from his pastoral career in 1988, after serving Calvary UMC in Frederick. 

“I enjoyed it all,” Doggett said. “All of it.” 

In those days, he said, pastors were supposed to visit their members, especially the new members and visitors. That was how he spent much of his days. The part he didn’t like were the almost nightly meetings. “When I finally retired after 43 years in ministry, the best part was being free at night,” he said. 

The Rev. David Cooney worked with Doggett and still keeps in touch. “What has always stood out to me about Carroll is his humility.  He surrounded himself with people who had strengths he admired and got out of their way, letting leaders lead.  He never felt the need to take credit or be front and center.  He preferred to lift others up.  He took charge when he needed to or when he felt it was his responsibility, but he was far more interested in the church doing well than he was in getting accolades,” Cooney said.

“What can we learn from him?  Be willing to work and give your full self to your assignment.  Identify people with gifts, put them in positions to use those gifts, and get out of the way.  Serve with humility,” Cooney said.  “A rising tide floats all boats.  So does a competent and humble pastor.”

Nan Doggett was the love of his life, and their relationship was made even more unique by the fact that she became a director of Christian education in three of the churches he served. “We had a lot in common to discuss,” he said.

One of his churches requested that the church staff gather to meet. He jokingly told them, “I don’t need to do that, I sleep with my director of Christian education, and we often discuss the church as we go to sleep.”

Over the years, the Doggetts raised three children. Nan died, at age 95, in 2021. “I still talk to her everyday, he said. “That’s what I miss most, being able to tell her what I’ve been doing and who I saw.”

Today, Doggett lives at Homewood Retirement Village in Frederick. He said he thinks a lot about the churches he served. 

Even as his eyesight is failing, Doggett keeps up with reading – it’s in his blood. “When you’re a pastor you’re always learning,” he said. He doesn’t have particular Bible verses that guide his life, instead he’s drawn to the stories and the various Bible characters. “If you could just learn one thing from each character, you’d have a good knowledge,” he said. 

He still follows events as they unfold in The United Methodist Church. “Things have changed so much, I can hardly keep up with it,” he said. But his years have also granted him some wisdom. 

To the clergy and lay people of the Baltimore-Washington Conference he says, “We’re all called by God to live the faith and proclaim the faith. We need to be responsive to God’s call in our lives.”

Cynthia Taylor Mar 25, 2024 1:04pm

Happy Birthday! You are so inspiring. Peace and blessings to you.

Wilson Shearer Mar 25, 2024 1:05pm

At 92 I think I might be next in the chronological roll of conference clergy. I got to know Carroll and Nan when Bishop James Mathews appointed me to the Frederick District in 1976. We enjoyed being good friends and colleagues as part of the Cabinet. Then in 1980 I was delighted to arrange Carroll's appointment as Senior Pastor of Calvary Church, Frederick, and also combine his gifts with those of David Cooney as his Associate Pastor. They made a great team!

Anonymous Mar 25, 2024 3:33pm

Happy Birthday and God's continual Blessings!!!

Gayle Annis-Forder Mar 25, 2024 4:23pm

Thank you for being a wonderful, positive presence in my life since I was a little girl at Millian, and for being so solidly supportive of me as a pastor. It was a great honor to serve at Loch Raven, where you had served.

Arthur Dan Gleckler Mar 25, 2024 11:23pm

Wonderful article, Caroll. I'm relishing still serving Bethesda UMC/Baltimore .... Keep inspiring us!

Dan Gleckler

Dick Stetler Mar 26, 2024 5:56am

I knew Carroll and Nan very well. They both could have their lives summed up in one word -- both were always giving, giving and giving. Carroll became the temporary pastor of Arden UMC when I was appointed to Capitol Hill when Tom Starnes was appointed to be the Conference Program Director. These appointments came between the normal appointment process. The congregation begged him to stay but the appointment process is the appointment process.

Britta Ricker Mar 26, 2024 9:16am

What a wonderful article! I learned new things about Granddad here. Grandmom and Granddad were also active at Camp Manidokan - I have fond memories of them leading square dancing there when I was a child. Thank you for sharing this beautiful article.

Eugene Matthews Mar 26, 2024 11:35pm

Happy birthday Carol our ministry intersected many times and you and Nan were a model of love and faithfulness to Christ. What a gift you both gave to the church and Conference. Thanks for your ministry

Yolande Dickerson Mar 27, 2024 8:34pm

Your position of District Superintendent at the St. John UMC in Pumphrey was that of sheer love and commitment to its members. Thanks for all you did to uplift the Kingdom of God and the members there,