Celebrating 60 years of ministry

A former Vicksburg United Methodist pastor, Rev. Dr. Lowell (Wally) Walsworth, was honored July 10 for his 60 years of ordained ministry.

Vicksburg pastor from 1981 to 1993, Walsworth was recognized at a special worship at Sturgis United Methodist Church, where he left full-time pastoral appointments in 1995 to work full time at Olivet College. Friends, family, former parishioners and current worshipers at the Sturgis church attended to recognize his service as well as the establishment of a scholarship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill., in honor of his long ministry.

From 1995 to 2002, while on special United Methodist appointment at Olivet, Walsworth continued in many non-clergy roles in the Sturgis church and served short-term interim pastoral appointments for Oshtemo, White Pigeon, Centreville, Three Rivers First, Reading, and Sonoma/Newton churches. He also taught at Kellogg Community College in Coldwater until his re-tirement from college teaching and church appointments at the age of 80.

Walsworth accepted the call to the ministry as a high school student at a summer session at Lake Louise Christian Camp in Boyne Falls. Walsworth went to Albion College, graduating in 1958 with a major in speech and communication and a minor in history, both subjects he would later find useful in his teaching ministry. In 1962, Walsworth received his Master of Divinity de-gree from Garrett, having spent the four years returning to Michigan each weekend to serve the churches where he had been appointed. His first assignment was to co-pastor the four congregations of the Hastings Parish, then to an appointment to churches at Lyon Lake and Marengo.

Several couples whom Walsworth married attended the July 10 worship. One couple from Kalamo were married 54 years ago, and a Vicksburg couple recently celebrated their 35th anniversary.

In his six-plus decades of ministry, he served as a pastor for 12 parishes: Hastings Parish, Lyon Lake/ Marengo, Kalamazoo First (Associate), Bellvue/Kalamo, Grand Rapids First (Associate), Edwardsburg/Niles Trinity, Battle Creek Trinity, Vicksburg, and Sturgis. In 1978, Walsworth earned his PhD degree in adult education from Michigan State University.

The Rev. Sue Babb, current pastor of First United Methodist of Sturgis, said she first met Walsworth while she was serving as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Jackson. Walsworth, then a faculty member at Olivet College, volunteered to teach District Lay Speaker training.

Babb praised the way Walsworth models faithful service. “The church has opened a free store to provide clothing and household goods to needy persons in the community. Every Wednesday morning and Friday afternoon, Walsworth volunteers to hang up clothing and help “mind the store.” During the 1990s, Walsworth helped establish the Disciple Bible Study program at the church, and Babb notes that many of the current church leaders were blessed to grow in their faith because of those classes. Walsworth also started teaching a Monday morning Bible Study group for men, which has met weekly at 8 a.m. for 14 years. Walsworth and his wife Jessica are faithful members of a weekly Sunday morning class.

Walsworth’s adult children assisted him in offering communion elements to Sunday morning’s worshippers. They are Dr. David Walsworth (Sue), Eric Walworth (Karla), and Sarah Walsworth Carpenter (Bryan). His stepson is Matthew Perry and he has six grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.

While in Vicksburg, Walsworth was a faithful tenor in the annual Rotary Showboat. He, and the late Blaine Rice, among others were instrumental in starting the Great American Sing-Out, a fundraiser for United Methodist Commission on Relief. That annual event garnered over 500 thousand dollars during its history.

Eric and Sarah graduated from Vicksburg high school while their father pastored in the community.

Those interested in contributing to the scholarship at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, may do so online at garrett.edu/give, and designate the Lowell Walsworth scholarship.

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