The Rev. Russell Craig:
Pastor of Christ Lutheran
Church on Western Avenue in
Background: 53. Born and raised in
Schenectady. Graduated from the
where he also earned a master's degree in public
administration. State worker for 31 years, currently with
the state Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance in
the Bureau of Data Management & Analysis, which is part of
the OTDA's Office of the Budget. Entered the seminary at
St. Bernard's School of Theology
and Ministry in
for a year. Ordained in 2005 after seven years of study with
the DELTO (Distance Education Leading to Ordination)
program at Concordia College
in Bronxville. He and his wife, Carole, live in
Voorheesville and have two children, Tom, 26, and Patty,
Stepping up: Last Sunday, he was installed as pastor of Christ Lutheran
Church. Previously, he
had been associate pastor and planned to succeed the Rev.
Kenneth Curry when he retired in five years. Curry died
after a brief illness in October.
How difficult has it been juggling your state job with
your new church responsibilities?
It's a challenge. Switching hats from data analyst
crunching numbers to pastoral ministry is very different.
Pastor Curry's death was quite a blow to the
congregation and an awful shock to everyone. But they have
done just wonderfully in a very stressful situation and
it's really pulled them together. I believe the Lord has
been with them through a tumultuous period.
When he died, we were marking our 75th anniversary. All
the former pastors and deacons were at his funeral. It was
a moving event. Two days later, we celebrated our
anniversary. It showed how the church continues on.
What have you learned since taking over?
I did distance ministries, filling in at vacant
congregations. Now I'm close by. I'm able to do more
visits, but suddenly you get called in on all the
different issues. When you're far away, someone else
What was the transition like from being a Catholic
seminarian to ordination as a Lutheran minister?
I was going to go be a priest, but God had other plans.
I was not a priestly kind of person when I was young. When
I settled down and married, church was still important to
me and I got more active in ministry. Then I heard about
the DELTO program, which is a seminary without going to
the seminary. What did that involve?
Roughly every other month a professor from
Ind., would fly in to Concordia College.
We'd meet on a Saturday. We'd do the work at home and meet
with a mentor. Pastor Winterhof at
and Pastor Curry were my mentors. Exams and papers were done
It must have taken up a lot of your free time?
My wife, Carole, got me through it. Toward the end I'd
say, I've had it, and she would ask me what I was going to
do if I quit. She could see I was frustrated. I wanted to
go play golf or do other things. She'd let me vent. My
kids would tell me I was going to be bored.
What do your government co-workers think of your other
I hope I have some sort of influence, but I don't skulk
around knocking the Bible over people's heads. Every now
and then someone asks me. It leads to interesting
discussions. -- Rick Clemenson