A Short History of a Faith Journey Impacted by WesleyKU

Rev. Larry Fry

The Madison United Methodist Church fostered in me (and fourteen others who entered ministry) a vision of Church alive in Christ through a close-knit community and a powerful compassion.  Camp Chippewa, Baldwin Institute, District, Conference, Jurisdiction events and the UN-DC Tour led to two invitations to serve United Methodist churches (Parsons: Washington Avenue and Fredonia: Twin Valley Parish) in the conference as a summer intern.  I met my wife-to-be, Penny, during my summer in Parsons.  These experiences started the path that led to ordained ministry.

As a 1966 KU freshman I found myself overwhelmed by the size of KU and excited to learn.  Starting out where you know only two teachers is a challenge.  Only one person from my high school class of 24 attended KU, but she soon left.  My randomly selected roommate was an extreme mismatch.  A later roommate became a lifelong friend. 

College brings life-changing decisions about values, friendships, faith connections, and sometimes choices of spouses.  With a different roommate, dorm life became much better and seemed to grow in importance.  I was a resident assistant for KU freshman athletes and also for the co-ed living at Oliver Hall.   During the four years, I left Air Force ROTC and my interest in astronomy became a hobby not a vocation.  The Vietnam Conflict, Civil Rights, fear of gay and lesbian persons were three of many issues that required reflection and decisions guided by faith in Christ.

The Wesley Foundation (now WesleyKU), First United Methodist Church (Rev. Ron Sundbye), and the Kansas School of Religion (Rev. Dr. Bob Shelton) shaped new directions and dimensions of my life, by expanding my understanding of ways that God was claiming me and calling me into full-time ministry.  Each offered acceptance, affirmations, and challenge in meaningful ways.  Belonging meant recognizing the dignity of and inclusion of all persons.  Each offered a place to discover gifts and to practice those gifts in order to make the world more Christ-like. 

With the call to ministry affirmed, I was accepted at Boston University School of Theology.  Two more internships, one at the United Parish in Lunenburg, Mass. and another at Adventure House (a House Church and Community Learning Center) in Fitchburg, Mass. were so vital to my learning and faith formation. After our wedding in Parsons, Penny joined me in Massachusetts and has blessed me in unbelievable ways for nearly 50 years.  She finished her MSW at KU after our return to Kansas.

It is a joy to celebrate this, my 50th anniversary of ordination, now retired, having a great time back in Lawrence, close to our son Josh, daughter-in-law Leena, and grandson Toland in Lenexa.  At invitations from First UMC staff I have assisted at the Lawrence Indian UMC, WesleyKU Advisory Board(with Director Susan Mercer), and the Theologian In Residence: Visiting Scholar Program. 

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