Meet our Senior Pastor
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Sometime later and in a less grandiose fashion, a baby boy was born to Ralph and Betty Wilson in Peru, Indiana. They named him Bradford Bryan Wilson. Time continued to roll on and before he knew it, he was growing up, had graduated from college, married Brenda Byrne, graduated from seminary, had the first of four children, and was serving his first church.
Thirty-one years and several churches later, the Bishop decided it was time for another change and here I am in Des Plaines at First UMC. It wasn’t anywhere near that simple, but in one sense that’s exactly how it works in the United Methodist Church. We UM clergy serve at the will of the Bishop and Cabinet.
I’ve been given a tour or two of the church so it is only fair that I give you a tour of me. This month I’ll give you a look at my formal education. I spent K-6th grade in the Addison, Illinois school district. Kindergarten was at the Oak school but 1st grade thru 6th grade were at Old Mill School on Old Mill Road. This is also where my formal music education began with violin lessons. I actually made it to second chair in the first violin section. My dad was appointed to his first full time church just after I finished 6th grade and our family moved to Hinckley, Illinois. That was the end of my violin playing days. I started piano lessons soon after moving to Hinckley at the same time that I began 7th grade at the Hinckley Junior High. Six years of piano lessons later, I graduated from Hinckley-Big Rock high school and helped pack up and move again, this time to Cherry Valley, Illinois on the south east corner of Rockford.
I got my first real job at a metal heat treating factory and began night classes at Rock Valley College, the local 2 year college. Taking almost all night classes, it took me 2 ½ years to finish my first two years of college. My work situation had been such that I had enough money socked away in the bank so that I paid cash for my last two years of college at Rockford College finishing my junior year all in one summer of classes and my senior year in the more normal fashion.
I met and became good friends with Brenda Byrne while in choir my senior year at Rockford College. Our friends had us married before we even knew we were dating, but that sort of thing has a way of happening. After graduating with a B.A. in Philosophy and Religion in 1977, I applied at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield/Banockburn, IL., and entered that fall into the Master of Divinity degree program. It never entered my mind to get any kind of a student loan, so it took me four years to get my three year M-Div., at Trinity. Of course while I was at Trinity I also picked up an “MRS degree.” For those who don’t get that little joke, Brenda and I were married in June of 1979 in the middle of my four years of seminary.
After graduating from Trinity at the end of May in 1981, I received my first assignment as a United Methodist Local Pastor, starting on the 15th of June in 1981 at the Tampico United Methodist Church where my pastoral education began in a less formal but far more practical sense. Thirty-one years and five churches later here I am.
Next month I’ll introduce you to my Faith Journey.
In Christ’s service,