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Wayne Kenton Clymer

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Wayne Kenton Clymer Obituary
Wayne Kenton Clymer

Groveland, MN

Wayne Kenton Clymer, former United Methodist Bishop of the Minnesota Conference (1972-80) and Iowa (1980-84), died on November 25, 2013. The cause of death was a stroke suffered while Bishop Clymer was delivering a eulogy at Brooklyn Center United Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

Clymer was born in Napoleon, Ohio on September 24, 1917. He briefly attended Malone College in Cleveland before transferring to Asbury College in Wilmore, KY in 1939. At Asbury he met Helen E. Graves. Wayne and Helen were married in 1939 and moved to New York City, where Wayne attended Columbia University, receiving a Masters Degree in Philosophy in 1942. In 1944 he graduated with a Bachelor of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he studied with the preeminent Protestant theologians of the 20th century, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Tillich. In 1950 he received his Ph.D degree from New York University. He completed post graduate work at the New York School for Social Research, William Alanson White school of Psychiatry, and Columbia University. He also completed clinical pastoral education at Massachusetts General Hospital and St. Luke's Hospital in New York.

He received honorary degrees from five colleges, including Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Rust College, Iowa Wesleyan, Westmar, and Hamline University; Asbury College honored him with an outstanding alumni award.

While studying in New York, Clymer was pastor of a church in Forest Hills, NY before moving to Naperville, IL in 1946 to accept a professorship at Evangelical Theological Seminary, one of two seminaries affiliated with the new Evangelical United Brethren Church (the result of a merger in 1946 of the Evangelical Church and the United Brethren Church), where he taught homiletics and pastoral theology. In 1957 he became dean of the seminary, and in 1967 president.

In 1968 the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodist Church, and in 1972 Clymer was among the first former members of the Evangelical United Brethren Church to be elected a bishop of the United Methodist Church.

While bishop of Minnesota, Clymer took a particular interest in Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and served on the university's Board of Trustees. He also served as President of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) 1976-84 and traveled all over the world on behalf of the hungry and the disposed which UMCOR assisted. He was particularly proud of his work with UMCOR. He made a point of taking seminary students and Iowa farmers to third world countries to see for themselves conditions there and to observe the work of UMCOR-supported projects.

For three months in 1970 Clymer was the preacher on the NBC radio program, "The Art of Living.' His Denman lectures were published under the title, Membership Means Discipleship. He is also the author of a book of sermons, Affirmation (1971). He was a member of the US delegation to the UN Conference on Refugees in 1970. He was part of a Church World Service delegation to post Khmer Rouge Cambodia in 1979.

Upon his retirement from the episcopacy in 1984, Clymer was appointed Bishop in Residence at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church. He served on the church's Global Outreach Committee and took particular pleasure in working at the church's Dignity Center, which ministers to the homeless as well as Compass 180, a service to persons who have been in prison.

In retirement, Clymer lived in Groveland, MN, and in Bradenton FL. He continued to be very active in the life of the church, even including on the day of his death.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. G. A. Clymer and Grace Clymer, his wife, Helen E. Clymer, his brother Merritt Clymer, and his sister Virginia Tipsword. He is survived by his second wife, Virginia Schoenbohm Clymer, his sons Kenton James Clymer of DeKalb, IL and Richard George Clymer of Hastings, MN. He especially enjoyed being actively involved in the lives of his six grandchildren and thirteen great-grandchildren. His life was enriched by Virginia's children Steven and Susan and there families.

Memorials may go to The Wayne K. Clymer Scholarship Fund, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminar, 2121 Sheridan Rd., Evanston, IL 60201, or to the United Methodist Committee on Relief, 475 Riverside Dr., New York, NY 10115.

Funeral service 2 PM Friday, November 29, 2013 at Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis with visitation beginning at 12:30 PM at the church.

David Lee Funeral Home

Wayzata 952-473-5577

Published in Des Moines Register on Nov. 27, 2013
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