Dr. Abbey Will Leave Pulpit Here
First Methodist Pastor Takes Post At Graduate School
The Rev. Merrill R. Abbey, pastor of the First Methodist Church for the past five years, will leave the church Jan. 1 to join the faculty of Garrett, a graduate school of theology on. the campus of Northwestern University.
Announcement of the change was made at the close of the last morning worship service yesterday. Dr. Abbey will go to Garrett as professor of preaching. Since 1942, he has periodically taught courses at the seminary as a visiting instructor, and will now become a full professor.
Dr. Abbey came to Ann Arbor in September, 1953, from the First-University Methodist Church in Madison, Wis., where he had served for seven years. He succeeded the Rev. Dwight S. Large.
During his pastorate the church has constructed a new wing to its building, enlarged its staff and program and extended its parking facilities. It has just completed a rebuilding of the church organ, doubling the instrument’s capacity.
For three years Dr. Abbey served as president of the Ann Arbor-Washtenaw Council of Churches. His election to the post in 1954 marked the first time it was headed by a clergyman since its organization 10 years previously.
During the past summer he served in Europe as a counselor for a Youth for Understanding Teen Age Exchange group and was one of 20 American pastors and professors selected to participate in an Institute of Methodist Theological Studies at Oxford University in England.
While serving previous pastorates, he was president of the Wisconsin Council of Churches and of the Milwaukee County Ministerial Association. He was pastor of the First Methodist Church in Milwaukee before going to Madison.
In his statement to the congregation yesterday, Dr. Abbey said: “Among the great churches we have been privileged to serve, none has been as great as this . . . We have loved our life among you from the first day, but never as much as now. We had hoped for the privilege of many more years among you, and no other church I know anything about could have lured us away. The urgency of this call to contribute what we can to theological education, however, seems to us to come from God. Believing this, we can make but one answer.”