Thompsons set to leave Bowling Green
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor
Friday, 06 September 2013 08:28
After more than a quarter of a century, the ministry of Karen and Bill Thompson in Bowling Green is transitioning into a broader area.
|Bill Thompson and wife Karen Thompson. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
Though both pastors have officially retired, they have continued to work in ministry, each in their own way. After 27 years they are leaving Bowling Green and will likely settle in Sante Fe, N.M.
The couple, both ordained Lutheran pastors, were involved with the former United Christian Fellowship, located on Thurstin Avenue. That facility no longer exists. However, the ministry is still active as The Common Good at 113 Crim St.
"We have appreciated the many churches and individuals who supported us and our ministry over the years," Karen Thompson said.
Beginning in 1986, she served as the director of UCF, and has recently been a chaplain with Hospice of Northwest of Ohio.
He was in charge of programming at UCF and working closely with the students and getting them involved in volunteer activities and social issues.
"UCF was designed to help students understand how faith intersects with their world," he said.
UCF did not hold regular worship services, but rather encouraged students to attend the other churches in the community.
Over the years the couple have noticed what they consider a negative change in the knowledge and attitude of students regarding faith.
"There are many more students who don't grow up with religious training," Karen Thompson said.
The financial support from area churches also dwindled over the years.
"We had to work with less - less money and less religious literacy in the student body," she added.
"It is a growing phenomena," her husband noted. "Most of the students have no experience in a Christian faith or any spiritual background. We found we had to do what some call remedial religion."
When the building was sold to Bowling Green State University, the sale provided the funding for the ministry to be ongoing. Bill has remained involved in The Common Good.
He said there are a group of college students living at The Common Good with a philosophy similar to that of the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps.
His wife added the students involved are learning that "you can be part of a constructive community."
Though the couple is now leaving Bowling Green, their intent is to stay involved and serve as "senior mentors" who can provide resources and information as needed.
Their first order of business will be a one-week "tour of civil rights history" to Alabama and Mississippi. They are then planning a trip up the east coast to visit with family and friends, including former students.
"We have stayed in touch with many people over the years," she said.
They then will be heading west.
Over the years Bill Thompson has taken students on pilgrimages and trips to the city along with Washington and the South Bronx. In Santa Fe, he has provided for-credit trips to the Navajo reservation.
"It has had a great impact on me and on the students," Bill said of the reservation. "It is a way of life so different. It makes you think about what is essential and what is important - what is the essence of being a human being."
The couple said the tranquility of the mountain setting is both restful and spiritual.
Karen Thompson approaches her retirement as a way she can "walk by faith and not by sight."
She considers these travels as a time of discernment as to how to continue her ministry.
In Santa Fe, she hopes to be able to practice hospitality and provide a place for spiritual retreat for people searching, suffering and struggling.
"We hope to become spiritual directors and be part of that community."
Her husband added, "As you get older, it becomes a more contemplative life. We want to share the natural beauty of the mountains."
He spoke of watching a sunset over the canyon, noting, "It puts you in touch with a greater reality."