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Chesapeake pastor gets ready for retirement

CHESAPEAKE — It has been a career that has taken in 15 churches in almost 40 years. Don’t even think about counting the number of sermons that adds up to.

And now the ministerial side of Daryl Fourman’s life is segueing into the slower pace of retirement.

But not before the pastor of the Chesapeake United Methodist Church reflects on the career choice he first seriously considered while in high school.

It was during a weekend trip of a youth group to a Kentucky mission that the Dayton native first considered the vocation that would mean the peripatetic life of a Methodist minister.

“I was kind of decided, at least I was open to the look at the possibility, even as a junior in high school,” Fourman said.

During the youth trip he and his buddies were sitting with the pastor at a Dairy Queen.

“He asked each of us what we wanted to be and I didn’t have a clue,” Fourman said. “He said ‘You ought to be a minister.’ It had never crossed my mind. But that planted a seed and that thought stuck. I prayed about it and then doors opened.”

One of the first doors to open was getting into the music program at Otterbein College in Westerville, outside Columbus, where he graduated in 1969 in church music.

“One of the reasons I chose to major in music is I thought it would be an asset to the ministry by understanding church music and filling in at small churches,” Fourman said.

Next it was on to the United Theological Seminary in Dayton, where he enrolled in its master’s of divinity program.

“It was a three-year program that I did in four,” he joked.

After about a year at the seminary, Fourman shifted gears from the classroom to the pulpit to get some in-the-trenches experience. And experience is what he got as he pastored four churches in the Coalton area, outside of Jackson, all at the same time.

Fortunately two of the churches met on alternate Sundays, but it still meant he had to handle three different services each Sunday morning going from church to church to church starting at 9 a.m. and finishing up at noon. Often times the service at the second and third churches would already have started before he got there. Then on Sunday nights it was a combined service of all four.

After a year as a student pastor, Fourman returned to seminary, graduating in 1973 to begin the transient life of a Methodist minister.

In the Methodist denomination, the governing body in each state assigns pastors to their churches, usually moving ministers every five to 10 years. It’s a lifestyle that requires the ability to travel light and pack economically.

“You just accept it as part of the life of the pastorate,” Fourman said.

In one of those moves to a congregation outside of Marietta, Fourman met a fellow clergyman, who became a partner in community outreach there, whom he would meet again when he came to Chesapeake. That man’s name is Father Charles Moran, now pastor of St. Ann’s.

Since Fourman started in Chesapeake, the two have worked on many outreach projects, including the food pantry at the Community Center and the Community Thanksgiving Service that helps fund that food distribution to the needy.

“He is just a good person and a good individual,” Moran said. “He cares for his people who appreciate not only the words of wisdom but the spirit and manner in which he lives them and presents them to his people. We have worked well together on many different things.”

In October of 2001 Fourman came to lead the Chesapeake church, a congregation of 110 members that has its roots back in the 19th century. Now, almost nine years later on Sunday, June 13, Fourman will say goodbye to those he has guided and counseled.

One of those is Dick Gilpin, mayor of Chesapeake and a longtime member of the Methodist church.

“He is a very talented person. He can play the organ, the piano. Musically he is very talented. He sings with our choir,” Gilpin said. “He is involved with all facets of our church. He is a fun guy to be around.”

In June Fourman will move to Bristol Village, in Waverly, with the initial game plan at least to indulge in his love for church music by playing for services at the small churches in the area.

As he looks back on his career, he says one of his greatest satisfactions is discovering that young people he once mentored are accepting the torch that he hoped had been passed.

“As I get the newsletters from the churches I have served it’s seeing the kids who were in youth groups take on leadership positions in the church,” he said.