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New pastor has traveled the world

Contributed • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:43 PM

A congregational luncheon will follow worship at the church, 717 Sheldon Road in Grand Haven.

Wagner’s appointment, which is effective July 1, was made by the United Methodist West Michigan Cabinet and Bishop Deborah Lieder-Kiesey. He has been serving as pastor of Holt UMC since 2006. Prior to that, he was pastor of Community UMC in North Muskegon for 14 years.

“We are looking forward to returning to the Lakeshore and to vital ministry with a great congregation,” Wagner said. “Church of the Dunes has a passion for life-changing Christian service that is a good fit with my core value that in God’s math everybody counts.”

Wagner succeeds the Rev. Daniel Duncan, who is retiring after 11 years at Church of the Dunes.

Since 1976, Wagner has provided leadership for nine congregations in four states and two countries in nine varied settings: county seat, agricultural, suburban, large church, economically depressed, racially transitioning, highly affluent, British Methodist, former Evangelical United Brethren and former German language conclaves. The native of Elmhurst, Ill., earned a bachelor’s degree from Hope College. He graduated from Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Conn., with a master of divinity and the Mersick preaching prize; and from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., with a doctor of ministry degree.

While in the Muskegon area, Wagner graduated from the Muskegon Area Leadership Academy. He served as vice president of the Community Mental Health Board for Muskegon County, vice president of Hospice of Muskegon-Oceana and on the board of the Muskegon Area Health Project and as chairman of the West Shore Committee for Jewish Christian dialogue.

Wagner has traveled extensively throughout his career. He participated in an archaeological dig in Jordan in 1974, and studied at Jerusalem University College in Israel in 2000 and 2009. He has traveled to all 50 states in the U.S. and 32 countries on five continents. He has lived in England, Israel, Lebanon and Taiwan.

Wagner has published numerous articles in church, print, online and denominational publications. He and his wife, Nancy – a Hope graduate and most recently the secretary for the East Lansing City Council – have been married 36 years and have two adult children.

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