An Open Letter from Courtroom 500 to the Chicago Faith Community
Now is a time for unity in the faith community. It is not a time separate into denominational divisions and sectarian separatism. It is essential for members of…
We celebrate the NIC’s 18 retiring pastors with a combined 456 years of service.
Cathryn Caliendo - 15 years
I served Cicero, Wesley UMC for 15 years and River Forest UMC part-time for the last three.
In those years, I have had so many powerful moments it’s difficult to choose. However, one
of the most memorable was in my second month of ministry.
While a student at Garrett, I found a name on the list of 50th year graduates. My mother and I were able to reconnect with our former student local pastor at the Church of the Redeemer, the Italian Methodist church supported by (as Granny M used to say) “Those good women of Evingstone.”
Two months later, the second time I officiated at Wesley’s communion service, my mother, several of her sisters, Bob and Alice came to worship. I served communion to the man who baptized me at three months old, more than 50 years ago. There wasn’t a dry eye in the sanctuary.
In the future, I will be living in a beautiful little Episcopal church building, built in 1892, in a quiet little town just a few blocks up the hill from Lake Superior. I plan on filling my days with gardening, spinning, weaving and doing other hand work. I’ll also be shoveling snow and enjoying my wood stove. My home is in a peaceful small town - nowhere near planes, trains, and traffic.
Linda Deming - 20 years
I began my ministry as student pastor at Alden Community Church. Following graduation from Garrett-Evangelical and then ordination in 1998, I served Chicago: Mt. Greenwood, Galena, Leland, Wood Dale: Wood Dale Community Church, and Ottawa: Evangelical.
These congregations were all relatively small and struggled with finances – a situation faced by most congregations. Expenses involved with maintaining older buildings, paying pastoral compensation elements and meeting conference obligations present a daunting challenge. When the financial situation becomes critical, the congregation must consider becoming a less than full-time appointment. Newspapers write about these issues and denominations bemoan them, but they were the reality in one way or another for each of my appointments. As pastor, this situation was a bitter pill.
There were joy and excitement in sharing ministry with the parishioners in each charge. Their heart for the Gospel was full and deep. The real high point of my ministry was having the privilege of baptizing the children, performing weddings, and officiating at funerals. Funerals fast became my favorite. While talking with each family, I saw new aspects of the deceased: hobbies, former careers, and achievements, travels, etc. A meaningful funeral was the least that I could do in response and in respect. Funerals are what I have missed the most.
Four years ago, I went on medical leave, and am now officially retiring. I will continue to live here in the Phoenix area sharing a home with my 92-year-young mother.
Rodney B. Dye - 22 years
I began as appointed pulpit supply to Apple River, Sept 1, 1992. I began the Master of Divinity program at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, February 1993. I was appointed to Lanark, July 1, 1996. I finished the Master of Divinity program December 1996. I was approved as a probationary member in 2001 and was appointed to Erie Nov 30, 2003. I was approved as a full member and ordained Elder in 2004.
The highlight of ministry for me has always been to love Jesus and the people, serving with and for them in the churches and communities where I've been appointed. I will miss most the pastoral care responsibilities of visitation and nurture.
In retirement (my wife's plan is for me to spend more time helping her and driving her to work when the weather is bad), I plan to spend more time taking care of our family farm, visiting grandchildren, volunteering in the communities of Erie and Fenton, and working part-time for Gibson-Bode funeral homes. And I just might spend some time watching the CUBS !
Dean Francis - 34 years
Dean Francis is a third-generation Methodist pastor. In 1922, his grandmother, Blanche Sheppard Francis, was the third woman in the Detroit Annual Conference to be assigned as a local pastor. His father, John Francis, was an elder in the West Michigan Annual Conference (WMAC).
Following studies at the University of Michigan and Boston University, he was ordained by Bishop Edsel Ammons in the WMAC. In West Michigan, he served Lawton-Almena, Kalamazoo First (Associate), Albion First, and was the Director of Development at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. In 1995, he transferred to the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) and was appointed to Evanston First, where he served for 23 years.
One highlight of his ministry is the large number of candidates for ministry that have come from Evanston First. In 2017, four of the eight persons who were ordained in the NIC came from the church. He will miss the long-term pastoral relationships that he has formed with his parishioners in Evanston.
Dean is married to his high school sweetheart, Dr. Nora J. Francis and they have been married for nearly 45 years. Nora recently retired from the faculty at Northwestern University. In retirement, they are moving to the Old Mission Peninsula near Traverse City, Michigan. Dean will continue his ministry by consulting with ‘First Church’ congregations who are seeking revitalization.
Ronald Greene - 38 1/2 years
Ronald Greene looks forward to immersing himself in nature and service opportunities on the South Carolina coast. He grew up in nature on a Minnesota farm, reading Carl Jung, and joining the boomer exodus to higher education and urban life.
Briefly, he dreamed big urban dreams, but a sojourn in professional acting revealed the need for a better script. He began to notice the Scripture’s bigger visions - while listening to the insinuations of his night dreams. This led to a doctoral paper on Jungian dream interpretation as a source of spiritual vision and pastoral supervision.
On January 1, 2019, Ron retires from Algonquin Christ UMC, via churches in River Forest, Winthrop Harbor/North Prairie, Westmont, Winfield, Aurora and Chicago Emmaus and counseling work in Palos Park. He’s tremendously grateful for the fellowship of friends.
David L. Haley - 44 years
Rev. David L. Haley was born in Hardin, Kentucky, in 1951. He is married to Michele Harbeck Haley, and they are parents to four children: Chris (Lynne), Melissa, Rebecca, and Anna; and grandparents to two, Logan and Carson.
David earned a B.S. from Murray State University (1973), an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (1976), and an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School (1983).
In his clergy career, he served as Associate Pastor at Trinity UMC in Memphis, Tennessee (1976-1979), before transferring to Northern Illinois in 1979, where he served Hermosa-Salem (1979-1981), Berry Memorial (1981-1990), West Chicago (1990-2007), and Skokie: Central (2007-2018).
For David, the best part of the journey was the wonderful people he got to know, and with whom he served, along the way. What he says he won’t miss are the forms and the pastoral version of the Myth of Sisyphus, the relentless weekly service/sermon cycle.
In addition to ordained ministry, David has mown grass, packed ice, carried furniture, worked in a tennis club, an emergency room, as a Firefighter/ Paramedic, and as a hospital and fire and police chaplain.
In retirement, David and Michele will live in Park Ridge, where David will serve as Chaplain for the Des Plaines Fire Department and the NIPSTA Fire Academy in Glenview, as well as travel the world in search of adventure, history, religion, and great food.
Harlene Harden - 24 years
The Rev. Harlene Harden was ordained to the order of Deacon in The United Methodist Church in 1994 and immediately began her ministerial journey with a two-point charge that included Pullman United Methodist Church, now known as Greenstone, and Fellowship United Methodist Church. She later moved to First United Methodist Church in Waukegan where she was ordained as an Elder in full connection in the Northern Illinois Conference. Her service continued at St. James United Methodist Church and concluded with Sycamore United Methodist Church where she was the Associate Pastor for nearly 11 years.
She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Social Justice from Lewis University and received the Illinois Laureate Award. Acknowledging her call to ministry, she attended Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. Her ministry involvement includes being a Southern District Lay Instructor on Methodist Worship, a member of Volunteer’s in Mission, a member of the Conference Board of Trustees and a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry, just to name a few. She is a tireless worker who strives to spread the good news of the gospel for the transformation of the world.
As she looks forward to retirement, Harden says she will miss most the daily interactions with the congregation and community. This includes the various celebrations of the church year and special services and activities during the year like Christmas, Lent, Easter, the golf outing, Confirmation, Pentecost and annual church picnic. She will miss writing sermons which she hopes have been meaningful for the congregations she has served. In retirement, she looks forward to relocating to Georgia and welcomes the opportunity to deepen her relationship with her grandsons who are now 12 and 15.
David Holden - 4 years
I am a retired school teacher (high school chemistry) and then found my way, somewhat unexpectedly, into ministry. I was called a bit more than four years ago, at the age of 62, to become a pastor, and it has been an outstanding experience. Certainly, it is one which is difficult to put into words. I have been serving at the Compton and Paw Paw Methodist churches.
As I have been asked to record here “what highlights have been” for me… and “what I will miss the most”… the answer is much the same for both questions. The people… and the growth.
The people have been enormously supportive and there is a mutual love and respect. In fact, the departure includes a good deal of grieving.
The growth… is an umbrella term that includes financial recovery, emotional healing, and as much as anything, the learning and spiritual growth that they relate and which I see. That has touched my
I anticipate remaining involved, though a bit more part-time… filling in where it is needed… as long as I don’t have to drive too far.
Dale Kelley - 10 3/4 years
I thank God, our Lord and Savior for reaching a great milestone in my life. Our God blessed me richly
to serve as pastor of Clair Christian United Methodist Church in Chicago. God appointed me Pastor of Clair in September of 2007 and the journey has been extremely rewarding, with some challenges but with greater joy and a multitude of blessings.
With our God guiding words, hand and the spiritual truth that He has ordered my steps on this awesome journey; I have been able to complete my assignment with everything He equipped me with and now, after much prayer to the Lord Almighty and believing in His guidance, I have decided to retire. The highlight of my ministry was working with the congregation, particularly the youth, in all aspects of ministry, which I will miss the most.
In retirement, I will continue to work with our youth and do community development while preaching from time to time.
Scott A. McClellan - 32 years
I have been under appointment in the NIC since my graduation from Garrett-Evangelical in 1981. While at G-ETS I served at Skokie: Central under Harry Conner and Buffalo Grove: Kingswood under Steve Dahl and Jean Bush. Appointments included: Chicago: Ravenswood and Bethel (2-pt. charge), Hebron, Lindenhurst: Trinity, Wheaton: Aldersgate, Lena Winslow and McConnell (co-operative parish), Morris: First, and McHenry: First and Mt. Hope (cooperative parish).
At various times I have served on the Conf. Committee on Aging, Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns, Board of Pensions and Church Builders Board. I was also trained by Herb Miller in various evangelism programs as well as the Consecration Sunday stewardship program.
What I will miss the most is watching people embrace their calling and helping them to use their gifts in establishing new ministries. Among those ministries have been: Contemporary Worship Services (including integrating visuals into worship) and Food and Fun Nights. I will also miss the opportunities to collaborate with colleagues through clusters and ecumenical groups.
For me, retirement means continuing ministry without beholden to the itinerate process. I hope to be active in a local church while still using my gifts to help congregations through supply preaching and stewardship programs. I also plan to continue to mentor and support young clergy just as I was mentored along my journey.
Brett William - 38 1/2 years
Looking back over my years in parish ministry, I am overcome by a sense of humility. What an honor to be invited to journey with so many dear souls as they have lived through the stages on life’s way. To hear their stories, to share in their tears, to laugh, to hope, to pray. So, too, it has been humbling to walk with local congregations as they have sought to be true to their call to strive for peace, justice, and a radically gracious welcome to all in word, worship, and action. The Church and world cry out for such a witness in times such as these when authentic expressions of Christianity are overshadowed by inauthentic and destructive forces.
I want to offer a particular word of thanks to the members of Northbrook UMC who, all those years ago, supported, nurtured, and helped to heal me and my family before, during, and after my kidney transplant.
Finally, one of the most luminous aspects of ministry came through the opportunity to serve as both a field site supervisor and as a small group leader in the VFCL program at Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. Both the seminary and the seminarians provide me with great hope for the future of the church and the world. Thank you to the many seminarians over the years who have taught me so much and have always widened my worldview.
Rev. McCleneghan served at Palatine: First, Park Ridge: First, Glenview, Northbrook and Community Church UCC in Park Ridge.
Greta McDonald - 43 years
I’ve served in parish ministry in the Northern Illinois Conference for more than 40 years, beginning at Elizabeth, where I served for eight years; then being appointed as an associate at Libertyville, where my husband, Jim, was also appointed as an associate and serving there for 13 ½ years. In January 1999, we were appointed as Co-Pastors to New Lenox and served there until July of 2010, when we were appointed as Co-Pastors to Downers Grove First.
A highlight of my ministry?!?! I couldn’t narrow it down to one. But in general, those times when I had the incredible privilege of being with someone at a life-changing moment, whether it was grief-filled or joy-filled, being present not only as myself but, in some way, as a reminder of God’s invisible presence and love, too. Each one of those experiences has changed me and deepened my awe, as well as my questions.
What will I miss most? The opportunities to be joyfully irreverent while being a pastor.
Plans for retirement – Living on Grace. Seriously, Jim and I are moving into our first non-parsonage home, and its address is 684 Grace Court. If I start straying too far from the Wesleyan Way, well – I’ll have a daily reminder of what really matters. While there, I plan to wear jeans most of the time, read books as long as I want, spend lots of time watching sunsets, sunrises, and full moons on the deck, and make myself available as an extra adult for our grandchildren.
James McDonald - 40 years
The Reverend Jim has been in ministry more than 40 years of pastoral experience. Jim grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He received his B.A. with a double major in Sociology and History from the University of Manitoba.
Jim graduated from the Iliff School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary in Denver, Colorado, where he received his Masters of Divinity degree with Distinction.
Following seminary, Jim served in the Rocky Mountain conference for one year then upon moving to Illinois Jim served the Hanover, Illinois UMC eight years before they were both appointed as associate pastors to Libertyville UMC, where they served for 13½ years. During his Libertyville days, Jim went to Alaska and served a small Athabasca Indian village called Anvik.
During these years he also served on a committee that helped bring healing to victims of sexual misconduct at the hands of persons overseeing Mission Schools in West Africa. For 11 years, they served as co-pastors at New Lenox UMC and the past eight years serving at Downers Grove UMC. They have two adult children. Their daughter, Danica, is a pediatric intensive care nurse at Hope Children's Hospital in Oak Lawn. Their son, Colin, is working at the Seminary Book Store at the University of Chicago as well as being on staff at the Urban Village Church North.
“The highlights of my ministry must include working with victims of child abuse along with going to Alaska and working with the indigenous Indians of Anvik,” said McDonald. “They taught me a great deal about caring for the environment.”
McDonald added that he’s loved Pastoral Ministry. "I once met theologian H. Richard Niebuhr in Winnipeg and his one comment to me was that there is no promotion beyond the Local Church,” said McDonald.
Glenna L. Olumstad - 11 years
I entered the ministry later in life having enjoyed two prior careers as a Registered Nurse and as an Early Childhood Educator. I was in my 50s when I discerned a call to ministry and entered GETS as a full-time student in 2004. After receiving my MDiv, and upon receiving probationary status (that’s what they called it in those days) from the Board of Ordained Ministry, I was appointed to Hope UMC in Joliet in 2007. It was a privilege to serve as their pastor for 6 years before receiving my second appointment to North Shore UMC in Glencoe.
The highlight of my ministry was the opportunity to lead both congregations through the process of meeting goals. At Hope UMC in Joliet, it was the dream of expanding their building by adding a new sanctuary to replace their current meeting space. A plan the congregation had dreamed would someday come to fruition since their establishment as a worshiping community in 1959. At North Shore UMC in Glencoe, it was the fulfillment of becoming a Reconciling Congregation, a designation that reflects the openness of the community.
What I will miss the most upon retirement are the many relationships that I’ve made in each congregation and the opportunity and privilege of hearing and sharing their stories. My plans for life after full-time ministry are full. I look forward to the opportunity of spending more time with my mother, children, and grandchildren who reside in Chicago and the surrounding area. Having the time to travel and engage in ongoing hobbies of gardening, genealogy and playing the lap and hammered dulcimer.
Philip Sheets - 40 1/2 years
Phil Sheets has served as a UMC pastor since 1977, and in the NIC since 1981. His appointments have included Irving Park, Chicago; Channahon, First DesPlaines, Calvary, Chicago; Good Shepherd Oswego and First Lockport. The highlight of his ministry has yet to occur, and he appreciates being with supportive people. He figures retirement is mostly like heaven: he’ll deal with it when he gets there.
"The new thing I have learned through the years is that the typical congregation rests on a basic paradox: our local churches were founded as a stabilizing force, intended to make sure that as little changed as possible," said Sheets. "But the Spirit wants and needs everything to change. Parish ministry means riding this schizoid tiger."
Sheets added, "I am still very engaged in full-time ministry at First UMC Lockport. My retirement is more a formality than an actuality."
Kent L. Svendsen - 25 years
Chaplain Kent Lowell Svendsen is an ordained United Methodist Minister, a retired army chaplain, a suicide prevention trainer, a certified counselor and a Veterans advocate.
Kent and his wife Paula have been married 40 years and have two grown daughters and four grandchildren. He has served as a United Methodist church pastor for twenty-nine years and has twenty-seven years of military service. He retired from the military at the rank of major in 2009.
He has served 7 different churches in his career and is presently the Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Mendota. Those churches are Harmon, Carpentersville, Plattville, Reynolds (Ashton), Forreston / Leaf River, Plano / Millbrook, and First United Methodist Church of Mendota. While in the military he served 11 military units. His service included two tours of Vietnam, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Peace Shield, and Operation New Horizons. During that time he taught suicide prevention for fourteen years. His professional video “Suicide Takes Another Life”, which can be found on YouTube, has been credited with saving a number of lives.
Other achievements include being an Advisor to the Western Hemisphere Institute For Security Cooperation a Department Of Defense school from 2001-2005 and a Full Board of Visitors Member 2005-2009. While serving he was involved with the creation and development of their human rights protection materials and training program. In 2009 upon finishing eight years of service for the school, he was named: “Ambassador of Good Will”.
Deborah Tinsley-Taylor - 11 years
Linda Walker - 4 years
Now is a time for unity in the faith community. It is not a time separate into denominational divisions and sectarian separatism. It is essential for members of…
Rev. Dr. Frederick Schmidt, is the Keynote Speaker at this year’s “Drawing Closer to God” Retreat, sponsored by the NIC Spiritual Formation Committee. Registration is open.
Delegation members are studying the report from the Commission on The Way Forward and beginning strategy discussions.
Members of the Annual Conference Shepherding team met twice over the summer to continue their work on strategic planning while working toward new goals for the Conference.