“God calls people to a place and God calls people from a place,” is one way Dr. Deborah Meinke described her decision to step aside as pastor of the Grace Presbyterian Church in Grove.
Dr. Meinke has been the pastor of Grace since September of 2004. She announced her decision to the Grace congregation in January. Her final service at Grace will be March 30th.
“My husband Dave and I have been maintaining two households since he still teaches in Stillwater. So we decided that we’d like to get back under one place and he is not ready to reire yet! So we’re going to forgo retirement at the lake,” Meinke explained laughing.
“It’s a strain to have two households,” Meinke went on. “And we’ve done that back and forth thing for three and a half years and it seemed like this was the time to change that.”
“I will look for a new calling somewhere closer to Stillwater and I leave here with a lot of fond memories of all the folks I met here and everything we’ve done together,” Meinke said.
Greg Coulter is the General Presbyter for the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery. The Presbytery serves sixty-nine Presbyterian congregations in this part of the state.
“We’ve really appreciated Deb’s leadership here for several years with this congregation,” Coulter said. “As well, we’ve appreciated her leadership in the Presbytery. She’s been a great partner in ministry with her pastoral presence and we wish her well in her future ministry.”
“I’ve met some really wonderful people here,” said Meinke. “I’ve really enjoyed working with the kids in the liturgical group and being a part of that. I enjoyed the fellowship events that we did with other churches. I also enjoyed the educational outreach programs that we did here at Grace. Our inter-generational vacation Bible school classes were a lot of fun, too.”
Meinke was born and raised in Wilmington, DE; a city roughly between Philadelphia and Baltimore on the map. Her father was a civil engineer for DuPont and her mother was a nurse. Meinke was the oldest of three children.
After high school Meinke attended Wooster College in Wooster, Ohio. While at Wooster Meinke met her future husband Dave. Upon graduation from Wooster in 1973 the couple married. Meinke left Wooster with a BA in geology while Dave majored in chemistry.
The couple then moved to New Haven, CT to complete post-graduate work. In 1980 Meinke graduated from Yale University with a PhD in geology while her husband acquired his PhD in biology.
After graduation from Yale the duo took positions at Washington University in St Louis, MO.
In 1982 Dave was offered a tenured-track position at Oklahoma State University and the pair moved to Stillwater. While Dave set-up shop in the science lab, Meinke became an academic advisor and part-time instructor.
In 1983 Meinke gave birth to a daughter, Laura, and in 1986 a son, Scott. Laura graduated from McAlester College in St Paul, MN and is currently a masters student at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Scott graduates from the American University in Washington, DC this spring.
In the late ‘90’s Meinke started attending seminary classes at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa.
“I went to seminary because I was interested in the relationship between theology and the sciences,” Meinke said.
In 2004 Meinke received her masters of divinity from Phillips and took the pastoral position at Grace shortly thereafter.
During her time in Grove Meinke considered the Golden House her favorite restaurant. She also enjoyed all of the flea markets that are to be found in Grove and the surrounding area. Some of her favorite places in Grove were the lake and Harber Village and Lidenwood Gardens. One regret is that she never got a chance to ride on the Cherokee Queen.