Alum News

Enjoy catching up with old friends. To share news of milestones in your life or ministry, or to simply provide updated contact information, please visit our update page. If you are reporting a death, please include a photocopy or link to a published obituary for verification.


Don Webb was delighted to exchange greetings with four friends, former parishioners and fellow alums David Roberts ('72), Steve Russalesi ('74), Alan Barone ('75) and Ed Trimmer ('77). The four were lads in Don’s Verona UMC Methodist Youth Fellowship when they were called to the ministry and, when he joined MTSO’s faculty in 1968, chose MTSO as their seminary. All five are now happily retired but still in His service.


Thomas (Tim) McArthy pursued further graduate studies after leaving MTSO and completed a Masters in Social Work at Case Western Reserve University. He also completed a three-year post-graduate program at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland and a Ph.D. in psychology at Kent State University. For the past 25 years, Tim has worked with the geriatric population. In 1996 he founded Psychology Consultants Inc., where he is now president and CEO.


William Kaster has retired from ministry and now enjoys volunteering with congregations in his area.

Sue (Ralph) Spirit (M.Div. ’68 and MA in Liturgical Arts ’90) has been working for 33 years for her women’s retreat center, Degrees of Freedom. She enjoys leading writing workshops at the center, writing a lot of essays and poems, and traveling the world.


Marvin Krieger has recently retired from ministry after serving 45 years. The last 31 years were spent in New Jersey as director of the Hoboken Clergy Coalition Shelter for the homeless and as the Hudson County director for HIV/AIDS health services. He feels truly blessed to continue to work as a consultant for HIV planning councils throughout the U.S. during his retirement.


Timothy Farabaugh recently published his sixth book, In the Beginning: A Look at our World Through the Lens of Environmental Science and Christian Theology, co-authored by his son, Chris. “Chris provided the scientific information. I provided the biblical and theological information.” Timothy is retired and lives with his spouse, Deborah, in Virginia.

Catherine (Wood) Luck (MA in Christian Education ’75, M.Div. ’76) recently retired from 10 years as a volunteer founder and spiritual community director of Oasis of Northwest Arkansas. Oasis offers a safe, sober, spiritual community of women survivors of abuse, addiction and sexual exploitation. As of 2013, Catherine retired from the Iowa Conference.

Fred Shaw serves as chair of the Native American Comprehensive Plan and UMC executive director of the Native American Course of Study for local pastors. He preached for the 2018 ordination service of the Alaska Annual Conference.

Lyle Shiffert has retired after spending the last three years at Zion UMC in Luckey, Ohio.


Robert Graybill is completing his second year of retirement after serving over 40 years in the Susquehanna Conference in Central Pennsylvania. He now lives in rural Pennsylvania on a farm, where he enjoys raising goats and selling cage-free chickens eggs to those who come by. For entertainment, Robert has been driving a school bus, worshipping freely without the responsibility and accepting a few preaching assignments when needed.


Joseph Burris has recently retired but still serves as a chaplain with the Maryland State Police and director of travel ministries with Educational Opportunities Tours. 


Bruce A. Jones has retired from ministry within the Baltimore-Washington Conference in June of 2018.


Bob Long is a retired elder serving part-time with Centenary UMC in Granville, Ohio. He is also working part-time in two long-term care facilities, doing behavioral management for residents with mental illness. He also enjoys portraying St. Nicholas in venues throughout the state during the Advent season.


Elaine Clinger Sturtz (M.Div. ’84, MA in Counseling Ministries ’08) has published her fourth book, Living in the Different. It addresses the passages of grief, change and loss.


Lawrence Michael Cameron recently completed 35 years of ministry. He is presently serving Bethany Union Church of Chicago, where he has been for the past five years. Bethany Union just celebrated its 145th year of ministry in its Chicago location. He has recently published his 14th book and continues his private practice in spiritual direction and counseling.

After 18 years as a faculty member in the Sociology & Justice Studies Department at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio, and serving as chairperson of that department for seven of those years, Dale Lanigan is phasing into retirement. He plans on doing some adjuncting, becoming more involved in his church, umpiring baseball games, doing volunteer work with the Special Olympics and spending more time with grandchildren. “Would love to hear from any of my 1985 fellow MTS grads.”


Phyllis Cole-Dai has co-edited the book Poetry of Presence: An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems. 


Cindy Parsons is excited to share that she recently retired from ministry. She and her husband, Jeff, live in Sebewaing, Michigan.


Alan Morrison is the pastor of Wattsburg UMC and Phillipsville UMC in the Erie-Meadville District of the Western Pennsylvania Conference. 


Ashwin Welch has become Galion, Ohio’s first police chaplain in many years. The mayor swore him in to this role after Welch assisted in the de-escalation of a crisis involving a firearm discharged within city limits.


Nancy Zahn has retired from the position of full-time elder in the Western Pennsylvania Conference after serving from 1993 to 2017. She plans to continue in pastoral ministry during her retirement.


David Hess is in his 12th year of serving as lead chaplain and director of volunteer services at the Indiana Veterans’ Home in West Lafayette.

Sherry Parker-Lewis married George Lewis in 2015. She currently serves as senior pastor at First United Methodist Church of Brighton, Michigan. In July 2018, the church she serves “adopted” another United Methodist Church, creating “one church in two locations.”


Mark Butler has started a new ministry as the education resource coordinator for the Dominican Sisters of Peace. His role is to ensure that Catholic identity and Dominican charism are integrated within each ministry founded by the congregation across many states in the region.

Candy Thomas began as interim Pastor at Christ Congregational Church in Palmetto Bay, Forida, on July 1.


Emily Hall is currently working at the Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey as the director of chaplaincy services.

Kathie Jones is currently serving in Northeast District of the Indiana Conference as an associate superintendent. Officially retired from active status, she served Forest Park UMC in Fort Wayne until June of 2018 and walked with them through the transition to become a third campus for LifeHouse/Huntertown UMC.


Jackie Burns was featured as Artist of the Month for the Chapter 57 online bookstore with the Erie Benedictine Sisters in Pennsylvania.


Michelle (Zearing) Beissel  is working at Elysburg and Miller’s Crossroads UMCs in Pennsylvania. Michelle and her husband, Brian, finalized the adoption of their son, Timothy, in May.

Chiyona Bourne has been appointed associate pastor at High Street UMC in Muncie, Indiana. She will be leading programming and missions on a local and global level. She also has completed training as a dance fitness instructor. With this training, she hopes to continue bridging the gap between the church and the world through group fitness experiences that combine body, heart, mind and soul while also providing community connections.


Mary Torok serves as director of faith formation at St. John’s United Church of Christ in downtown Columbus.

Maureen Webber is the associate minister of pastoral care at the Bath Church United Church of Christ in Akron.


Kerry Wood began serving Jan. 1 at Mt. Moriah UMC in the Ohio River Valley District of the West Ohio Conference.


Katherine Beckett is pastor at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Rockford, Ohio.

David Jones is ordained in the United Church of Christ, serving St. Mark’s and St. John’s UCCs in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. He has recently been elected vice president of the Lebanon Association and also serves on the Penn Central Board of Directors.


Abby Caseman is serving as pastor at Atwood UMC in Colby, Kansas. She is currently working with nine northwest Kansas counties to end poverty and help families thrive in rural communities.


Kyle Bucholz is serving six counties in Central Ohio as the spiritual care coordinator for Heartland Hospice.

Becky Guthrie is proud to have recently become a grandparent to Jackson Reid Guthrie, who was born to John and Eliza Guthrie on Nov. 12, 2017.

Phyllis Plear graduated in August from a year of chaplain residency at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.


Beth (Staten) Gedert was ordained in the United Church of Christ Sept. 22 and was married to Sam Gedert on Oct. 6. She serves as the pastor of Zion UCC in Delaware, Ohio.


Nicholas Shaw and his wife, Renee, are in the process of becoming UMC missionaries after receiving recommendation from the West Ohio Conference.              

Lorenzo Thomas is beginning a new position with OhioHealth as a Chaplain Resident this fall.