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 Russell Craig

Voorheesville, NY
 Graduated 1975

 Positions held:

 Sponsored by:
Tim McEniry

Mark Litcofsky
   Steve Silberberg


Albany Times Union
First published: Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Rev. Russell Craig: Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church on Western Avenue in Guilderland.

Background: 53. Born and raised in Schenectady. Graduated from the University at Albany 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 Rochester 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, 22.

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 handles them.

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 Fort Wayne, 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 Bethlehem Lutheran Church and Pastor Curry were my mentors. Exams and papers were done by mail.

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 job?

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


Pastor Russell J. Craig
Christ Lutheran Church, Albany, NY
SonRise Lutheran Church, Pottersville, NY