The members and staff of Asbury United Methodist Church welcomed Rev. Dale Brown as their new pastor in July. Six months in, Rev. Brown loves everything about Smyrna from the community itself to the church members.
Rev. Brown took a few moments recently to talk with the Sun-Times about why he became a pastor, what he enjoys about the job, and more.
Q Why did you decide to become a pastor?
A I was 12 years old and I wanted to be one of two things, either shortstop for the Baltimore Orioles or I wanted to be Perry Mason…not an attorney, I literally wanted to be Perry Mason. It's still my favorite thing to watch on TV those old black and white movies. And my family was scheduled to take a trip to the Middle East, Israel and Egypt to see the sites that were apart of Jesus' life and the Bible. We've always been involved in the church. I grew up with a really good family. We got to the Garden Tomb which is where Jesus is supposedly buried — outside the Garden Tomb a lot of tours will have the sacrament of Holy Communion — and during the sacrament I really felt that there was a call on my life to be a local church pastor, to care for the people of the local church, and to preach and to do the things that are a part of that.
Pretty much since I was 12, that's what I wanted to do. I did at one point, really want to teach in a college or seminary biblically related topics, theological related topics but I'm really content being a local church pastor. I never do the same thing two days in a row. This morning I met with Fletchers regarding the air conditioning, I met with a family doing a wedding Sunday, I met with you, wrote bulletins and tomorrow will be totally different. And I like that variety a lot. I really enjoy what I do immensely. I enjoy the people immensely. It's a real privilege to me to be with people in their best moments, weddings, baptisms, changes in life, things that happen but also to be there in the hardest times and to be in the hospital rooms. It's not easy, but I do see it as a real, real privilege so that's sort of why.
Q What do you enjoy most about being a pastor?
A I enjoy the people. I really enjoy the people and hearing their stories. My preaching style involves a lot of storytelling. I'm not one of these guys, if you're going to a church looking for someone who is going to thunder down on you, you did this wrong and that wrong, I'm not your guy. I really enjoy telling the stories of the bible characters, and stories from life and how they intersect and relate. And I trust that people have enough intelligence and desire to do good that they can make meaning and significance out of those stories. I believe in the reality of sin because I see it in things like [the school shootings in] Connecticut but I still believe there's an incredible amount of good in people, and I look for that good and generally you can find it.
Q What's the most challenging aspect of your job?
A On the personal side is time. I don't begrudge the time but there are times when it would be a nice to have a few more evenings off to have a little more personal time. And I've been away on vacation and gotten a call that someone has passed away, and I'm the type of pastor that I'm coming back.
The professional side is dealing with the brokenness and hurt places of people's lives. In my 50th year, I'm at a place in life where there's a lot of time I know there are answers but a lot of times there's more questions then there are answers, and when you're dealing with people who are hurting and things, you want to be of help and I know that I have the opportunity to be a part of the offering of God and faith and love and hope for them. But there is something about a compassion for people that if you could do, if you could take away the uncertainties or the surgeries or whatever, you would.
Also, dealing with the needs of the poor. I've been very concerned for a long time about the needs of persons who are in poverty, who are homeless and things. I just see that need growing rather than diminishing and that's very hard.
It's the hurts of people, if you can, if you have a level of compassion you want to do all that you can do. Sometimes there's a limit to what you can do.
Q What's something that might surprise people about your or your job?
A The image people have of clergy people is so…the biggest I think is just the whole idea we're people as well. I'm no different than anybody else. I hope that I have had an experience with God and an education that allows me to be of help and service to others, but really we're just as human as the next person.
I see myself as extraordinarily blessed. I get to do something that is very enjoyable and for the most part not terribly hard, busy but not hard in the sense of someone working out physical labor. I just think the whole idea a person is a pastor or preacher, they're human and struggling with some of the same issues.
Another surprising thing about me, I'm a member of the College of Pastoral Supervisions and Psychotherapy as both a licensed pastoral counselor and licensed clinical chaplain. This the first time in about 19 years now that I haven't been a chaplain at some institution.
Q What do you like about working in Smyrna?
A I love everything. I enjoy the community. I've been treated incredibly well by the people. I'm not getting lost driving around town now. I absolutely will tell you that I have no drawbacks in my job. I enjoy living here. I've enjoyed everywhere I've been. There's good in every place. I've served in Cambridge, Salisbury, in the Chestertown area, and Bridgeville more recently before here.
I love the community. I love the people. Everybody has been incredibly nice and incredibly welcoming. I really do enjoy being here, very much so. It's a little further away from home, but it's still drivable. I like to go to Lancaster. It's a proximity to a lot of things. And I like what I do. I really enjoy the people in this church. No person is perfect but they're really good people.
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.