The Walkers were honored during a special ceremony during the Feast of Tabernacles in Bend, Oregon (see additional articles here https://www.ucg.org/members/news/retirement-celebration-in-medford-and-surprise-retirement-celebration-at-the-feast).
Larry Walker graduated from Ambassador College in Big Sandy, Texas and was sent immediately into the field ministry, serving the Fort Worth, Texas, congregation. He was ordained on Oct. 19, 1967, and has pastored congregations coast to coast from Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, Oregon, New Mexico, Minnesota, and most recently in Bend and Medford, Oregon.
Additional contributions and responsibilities included festival coordinator, chairman to the doctrinal advisory committee, United Youth Camp staff, doctrinal review team, contributing to the Ministerial Journal, pastoral training classes, focused education, and answering letters on the personal correspondence team.
Longtime Friends and Coworkers Shared These Thoughts:
Steve Nutzman: “Larry and Karen both have the hearts of true servants. I admire their individual and team efforts, and I have seen their loving service at Northwest Camp for some years. Karen was the unofficial “camp mother” who always had the care and comfort of the campers and staff in mind in her many duties. Larry was always in the mix at camp as well, serving in the ropes course as program director and Christian living instructor. Larry and Karen were instrumental in establishing the Bend-Redmond Feast of Tabernacles site and faithfully served there for 17 years. That has to be some kind of record. Larry is also a skilled researcher and writer. As pastor and wife, they are well loved and respected in the entire Northwest. Thank you friends for your faithful and dedicated service all these years and all the best in your retirement!”
Melania Nutzman: “We became closely acquainted with Larry and Karen when we served together for several years at Northwest Camp. We were very impressed with their desire to serve and support others and how much fun they were to be with! We have appreciated their friendship and kindness through the years. I worked in the office with Karen and saw firsthand her ability to organize and her attention to detail. Karen told me often that she just loved camp! Truly, this showed through in all she did. Well done, Larry and Karen!”
Ken Martin: “As a fellow pastor and elder serving in the United Church of God, Larry Walker and his dear wife Karen have been a wonderful example of a caring pastor and wife devoted to serving the membership of the churches they have pastored. Larry and Karen have devoted their lives to serving the one true God and Jesus Christ. Larry and I have some wonderful memories reflecting on our days at Ambassador College both in Pasadena, California, and Big Sandy, Texas. Although no longer with the full-time responsibilities of the ministry, Larry and Karen will continue to be of help and assistance in their ministerial service to God and His people where needed.”
LeeAnn Luker: “As a freshman at Ambassador College, Larry Walker got to know Denny. In January 1981, he asked Denny to perform his wedding to Karen Cole. That began a closer friendship that continues to this day. In the 80s, Denny had begun to develop a focused education program for helping those with addiction problems. Larry was serving as a chaplain at a recovery center in Eugene at that same time. Later, after being transferred to Bend, Larry gave lectures at an outpatient center. Their mutual concern for brethren with this struggle strengthened Larry and Denny’s relationship. They worked together in further developing this program for United Church of God.
“The Women’s Enrichment Weekends in the Portland, Oregon, area have also benefited from Karen’s presentations and poetry. Her warmth, humor and wisdom have made a great contribution for all the ladies.”
When Reflecting Back on Their Years Together in the Ministry the Walkers Shared:
Larry Walker: “One of the things I have learned in my 50 years of ministerial service is the need to be patient with people and give them time to change because human beings are too complex to figure out, and I have seen many examples of members who have surprised me for better or for worse. So I say, ‘With human beings, you never know.’
“However, I have to say that the main thing I learned is the importance of being myself. Early in my ministry, someone advised me to ‘put distance between’ myself and congregation members in order for them to respect me. Thankfully, I didn’t follow that advice, because being genuine is a key to being approachable.
“Today’s world is much different than it was during the early years of my ministry. Dealing with doctrinal differences is a major challenge. Emphasizing that Church is a family is important, because successful families love each other despite problems and differences.”
Karen Walker: “Always be yourself with people. It doesn’t matter what another person’s position is, whether they’re at the top of the ladder or just starting out, they deserve your respect, love and attention. Truly care for them as God cares for us.
I was a Special Olympics track coach some years ago, and the joy of watching another blossom physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually is one of the most heartwarming things to behold! People can feel it in the air when we are just being ourselves! Laugh often. There is no place in a healthy life to take ourselves too seriously! Love always. It shoves fear out the door! Live like tomorrow is your last.”
Plans After Retirement
Larry and Karen Walker are looking forward to more free time to travel, camp, spend time with family and building their hobby business. One of the philosophies of life they live by is that “busy is a better b-word than bored.” They do not expect to be bored, because they have many interests to keep them busy.
The Walkers have been married for 35 years, and they have four children and 11 grandchildren.