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Pastor Q&A: David Thayer St. Andrews UMC

"Pastor Dave," has been leading his Edgewater flock for 22 years.

Celebrant and preacher, he is “Pastor Dave” to his ministry, a mid-size church of 500-600 congregants. He has been senior pastor at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church for 22 years and is one of the original founders of the school, which serves a student body of 250 students in preschool through eighth grade. He teaches religion to sixth through eighth graders and leads two weekly worship services for the school.

Among his many strong concerns is the number of American soldiers lost weekly in  current wars. He devotes a portion of every service to prayer for peace and for the safety of our troops. He said that the losses weigh heavily on him.

In an office overflowing with books, handmade gifts and cards, photographs, and 22 years of memorabilia, Pastor Dave is a reflective man. Now 57, he was raised, with one brother and one sister, in many locations as a self-described Air Force “brat.”

After one of the last family moves, he attended Potomac High School in Hillcrest Md. He then attended Frostburg College, received his Masters of Divinity at Duke University, and his doctorate at Catholic University.  He completed his doctorate while serving as pastor at St. Andrew’s.

When he was first appointed to St. Andrews Church, there was neither the school nor the sanctuary. At that time, the congregation of 35 members looked to him for a vision and strong leadership. Raised in the Methodist faith, he likes the operations of the church diocese.

“We confer with one another often. It is our method of organization," Thayer said.

His vision is one that taps into his knowledge and education, his profound faith, and a desire to maintain a strong link between traditional and modern contemporary thought.

An English and philosophy major at Frostburg State University, and an avid fan of Shakespeare, Pastor Dave is a great literature aficionado. Favored theologians of his include Karl Barth and Karl Rahner, and his favorite contemporary authors include John Updike and Flannery O'Connor. O'Connor's writing reflected her Roman Catholic faith, and frequently examined questions of morality and ethics.

Pastor Dave’s thoughts are frequently dressed with quotes and passages from classics in literature. Talking with him in his cozy library, a quote from “Inherit the Wind,” written by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee, comes to mind, “the Bible is a book. It's a good book, but it is not the only book.”

Pastor Dave is the father of three now-grown children.  His wife, a nurse who has worked in kidney dialysis for 20 years, is also his soul mate and his greatest source of support.

Outside of church, he enjoys golf as well as weight-lifting. Pastor Dave is also an artist, a painter who works in oils. His grandfather and both daughters are also talented artists. However, the favorite pastime of this proud grandpa is spending time with his one-and-only grandson, who is two years old.

“People are the challenge, always,” Pastor Dave of his congregation, “but they are also the joy.” The congregation is largely devoted to community outreach projects, including children’s clothing drives, household supplies help, and volunteer participation to make and serve dinners at the Lighthouse Shelter monthly.

“My congregation is made up of fine people who make a significant contribution to their community and the world,” he says. There is a church food pantry that serves 30 or more people a month with groceries. There are programs to help with building and other community services in Appalachia during the summer months. In addition, there is a weekly flea market that is very popular with the larger community.

Pastor Dave explains that while there are so many favorite aspects of his job, the preaching and the celebration of worship rank very highly. The opportunities to be with people during significant moments in their lives--the births, the deaths, the weddings, the crises--make him the proudest. Pastor Dave says he enjoys the role of helping and giving people hope. All of this, he says, is rooted in the traditions of Christianity.

“Connecting people to the good news,” is how he sees his job.

As pastor of a very friendly, very active congregation, he says his job keeps him busy and happy. One day, he says, he hopes to write a book. Pastor Dave says of St. Andrew’s.

“This place is home.”

Billy Cannon April 11, 2011 at 04:07 PM
Pastor Dave and St. Andrews are the "Best kept secret in the area"!!
Janice Harris April 12, 2011 at 01:37 AM
My favorite thing about Pastor Dave and St. Andrews United Methodist Church is that they follow the teachings of the Bible. He is extremely knowledgeable on almost any topic one brings up. I am also constantly reminded of God's grace through his sermons and bible studies. It is a wonderful place to worship because of his leadership.

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