ALBION

He's a cancer survivor and has also survived a quintuple heart bypass.

He's a 70-year-old retired United Methodist pastor who studied at a Mennonite seminary and is now the pastor of a Wesleyan church.

He's got a doctorate, but doesn't like to be called "doctor."

He's the Rev. Dr. Harold North, who started serving at Albion Wesleyan Church as its pastor in March.

The Wesleyan and United Methodist churches share a common spiritual ancestry. The Methodist branch of the church

the "United" comes from other denominations

was formed as the Methodist Episcopal Church, following the teachings of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement.

In the mid-1800s, the Wesleyan Church split off from the ME Church over the issue of slavery. The Wesleyans opposed the practice. While other groups that split from the ME Church over the same issue later rejoined it, the Wesleyan Church never did.

North was no stranger to the Wesleyan Church before he came to Albion. "My first 15 years of ministry were in the Wesleyan Church before I became a Methodist," he said.

North graduated from Wolcottville High School in 1953. "At that time, I felt the call to the ministry," he said.

He graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 1957. He attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky for a time, then finished his Masters of Divinity degree at the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart.

North later got a Doctor of Ministry degree at Concordia Theological Seminary. He doesn't like using the title "doctor," though.

North's first pastoral appointment came in 1959 in Indianapolis. He then served in La Puente, Calif., in the Los Angeles area for about nine years before moving back to Indiana.

North then served in Topeka, still as a Wesleyan pastor, before he became a United Methodist clergyman.

The United Methodist Church's structure appealed to North, prompting him to make the switch. "I thought I could have a good ministry in the United Methodist Church, and I have," he said.

After the denomination change about 16 years ago, North served at Solomon Creek near Goshen, then at Rome City United Methodist Church. He served on the East Noble School Board for eight years while there.

North suffered cancer of the salivary glands over a decade ago. Two years ago he had a five-way heart bypass. But it wasn't health that brought him to retirement; it was reaching the United Methodist Church's mandatory retirement age of 70.

North's March arrival at Albion Wesleyan was two months before he officially retired from the United Methodist Church. The appointment came about because of a need and an old friend.

Dr. Harold Bardsley, the superintendent of the Wesleyan Conference of which Albion is a part, had been a good friend of North's since they were boys. They went to college together.

"I knew that he needed a pastor up here," North said. North expressed interest in the post, and the Albion church called him as its pastor.

It's not unusual in the United Methodist Church for pastors to serve in other denominations, North said.

Retired pastors in the UM Church will normally serve part-time at appointments within the denomination, North said. However, his job at Albion Wesleyan is full-time.

Albion Wesleyan Church has great fellowship, and North believes it has a good future. "They're lovely people here. This is a good pastorate.

North said he works to bring a quality pastoral ministry with Biblical preaching, meaningful worship and wonderful Christian fellowship. "I do promote discipleship," he said, explaining that he encourages people to use their talents in ministry to others.

"We're committed to evangelism

winning people to Jesus Christ," North said of Albion Wesleyan. The church offers a caring, nurturing fellowship with the opportunity for people to use their talents in serving the Lord.

"Of course, our first objective is to offer people Christ and give them a firm, established faith in God," North said. "This is a Biblical church, and we believe in the authenticity of the scriptures. It's an evangelical church"

North and his wife of 51 years, Lois, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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