By Helen A. Granger, staff writer
The public is invited to attend a farewell gathering planned for 6 p.m. Sunday, June 28, at Grace Bible Church, 201 S. Michigan Avenue in Owosso, where Rev. Jerry Walden has been the pastor nearly 10 years.
After more than 40 years as a pastor, Rev. Walden, 62, has decided to cut back his “very busy schedule” to spend more time with his wife and family.
He was ordained in 1977, then served churches and congregations in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan as well as being a bi-vocational pastor/counselor.
“It’s time to step back from my pastoral duties,” he said in a June 16 interview with The Independent.
After his first wife and three children were killed in a tragic car accident in 1989, Walden pursued a master’s degree in clinical social work, finding he had a unique perspective and empathy in counseling others who had suffered similar tragedies.
In 1994 he met and married Darlene (Shoemaker) [Woodworth] who has two sons, Randy, a real estate developer, and wife Molly Woodworth of Owosso as well as Jim and wife Lillian who reside at Lake Manitou and he works in the Detroit area. There are four grandchildren.
Walden has been active in the community as well. He serves as a member of the Friends of Hospice and served a term as District 3 Commissioner (2005-2006). In 2007 he began serving on the Shiawassee County Community Mental Health Board and is currently serving as its chairman. He plans to continue serving in that capacity.
Busy is Walden’s operative word. He also has a full-time responsibility as director of the Gerholz Center in Flint – a Christian Counseling Center.
And, for nearly a decade he has been the pastor of the 150-member independent non-denominational Grace Bible Church congregation. Under his leadership adult mission trips have been taken to Alaska, Ecuador and Wisconsin among other locations. The church’s Wednesday night children’s teaching/learning sessions that offer children’s programs as well as meals before the programs.
“We have a community garden for the neighborhood. People can stop by when we are harvesting and pick from the garden and can help if they wish with the weeding and other tasks,” he said. An annual Trunk or Treat and a community Easter Egg Hunt have also been part of the church’s outreach.
“I am most proud of the Sunday evening program that has grown and developed over the years. It is more of a teaching program that is well attended …,” Walden said. “It’s time to step back and spend more time with my wife and the kids and grandkids.”