News and Views

Retiree celebrates the transcendent

Posted by Melissa Lauber on

After 42 years of ministry, the Rev. David Thayer is retiring this July with all the best pastors’ words on his lips: transcendence, incarnational, eucharistic, sanctuary, mission, learning, love.

Thayer, the pastor of St. Andrews UMC in Edgewater, served that church for the past 31 years. He also serves as chaplain and a teacher of eighth-graders at the private school that is connected to the church.

Over the decades, he has buried, married, and baptized generations on the church’s 30-acre site. He also built a sanctuary and school buildings and grew the school so that last year it provided a quality education to the 275 pre-school, elementary, and junior high students.

Teaching quantum physics and God to eighth-graders might seem unusual, but for Thayer, it offers him a sense of wonder. It’s a ministry he loves. But his greatest accomplishment, he said, is creating a congregation that values celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday and recognizing that Communion provides an encounter with grace in which one can experience the presence of Christ. 

Thayer writes the Great Thanksgiving each week and sets it to the music of a hymn. He also wrote the lyrics to two cantatas. Music, for him, speaks to the heart of worship. 

He believes strongly in not “dumbing-down” worship. Rich worship “allows us to feel a transcendent sense of God’s presence,” Thayer said. “It elevates.”

St. Andrew UMC’s weekly focus on Holy Communion also reminds Thayer that God’s presence can be found everywhere. 

After years of ministry, he said, he is “more certain of universal salvation and that God’s grace and love is sufficient.” This certainty has helped him relax in ministry. 

“It’s a different kind of evangelism,” said Thayer. “Being loved makes me want to share that love. Living by grace makes me want to treat everyone graciously. That’s been my task.”

But all that love and grace doesn’t mean he hasn’t been met with challenges. Over the years, there has been conflict. “I’ve been called some humdingers of words,” he said. “I just go on to try to love.”

As he moves toward retirement July 1, Thayer offers some advice for those just entering the ministry.

“Love the children,” he said. “Never be afraid to stoop down to the least, the last and the littlest. … Remember humility before your congregation. You are there to help them be the church.”

For those clergy and lay people leading liturgy, Thayer advises, “get that Methodist emotion in you. The great gift of Methodism is that it if something doesn’t compute with your heart, it should be questioned. … Make worship beautiful, transcendent, and symbolic.”

In the season ahead, Thayer would like to travel to Sweden, where his family is from; perhaps take up painting, like his grandfather; and continue with his work in the Rotary. “The future is sort of open right now,” he said.

The season ahead offers opportunities. Discipleship, Thayer said, “means being a student of a teacher. A good student of Jesus can never become a know-it-all. We’re learners,” he concluded. And, “we can experience the presence of Christ – heaven can come to earth.”

Congratulations to all our 2020 Retirees: 
(Effective July 1, 2020, unless otherwise noted)

Rev. Robert Clipp
Rev. Robert Cook
Pastor Dennis Deboy (11/1/19)
Rev. William Thomas Green
Pastor Bernard Harris
Rev. Brian Jackson
Rev. Loretta Johnson
Rev. Curtis King
Rev. Mark Lancaster (8/1/19)
Rev. Lauren H. Lay (10/3/19)
Rev. Alhassan Macaulay
Rev. Vivian McCarthy
Rev. Donna Nelson
Pastor Robert “Terry” Orrence
Rev. Vicky Starnes (1/1/20)
Rev. Gary Sheffield-James
Rev. Sue Shorb-Sterling
Rev. Frances Stewart (8/1/19)
Rev. Robert E. Slade
Rev. David E. Thayer
Rev. Rebecca Wright