Rev. Dr. Larry R. KalajainenInstructor Maine School of Ministry
Larry R. Kalajainen is a retired United Methodist and United Church of Christ pastor, who has served forty-four years in parish ministry on three continents. A native of western Pennsylvania, he earned degrees at the University of Pittsburgh, Asbury Theological Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and finally, the Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity at Drew University.
Following seminary Larry and his wife Carol trained to serve as missionaries with the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. They were appointed to serve Chin Fu Methodist Church in the city of Kuching, the capital of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo, where they lived for the next six years. Larry’s role in the bi-lingual parish was to lead the English-speaking congregation and the large joint youth group of about 50-60 young adults between 16-30. He also occasionally taught as an adjunct faculty member in the Anglican diocesan seminary in Kuching.
Returning to New Jersey at the end of 1980, he served two more pastorates in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church while also pursuing his doctoral studies. During this time, he also taught courses as an Adjunct Professor at Drew Theological School and at New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
In 1994, he was called to become Senior Pastor of the inter-denominational American Church in Paris, France, and served for nearly ten years before returning to the U.S. to serve First Parish Church UCC in Brunswick, Maine and later, the Scarsdale Congregational Church UCC in Scarsdale, New York. He retired from the United Church of Christ, and returned to New Jersey for one final three-year appointment at the Island Heights UMC, before also retiring from the United Methodist Church.
One of Larry’s lifelong concerns has been to bridge the gap between the academic study of the Bible and its application to the life of the local congregation. His writing and teaching have combined the critical study of the scriptures and Christian history with pastoral resources for individuals and congregations, particularly in the area of spiritual formation. He published three books with Upper Room Books, all of which had their origins in his adult Sunday School class in whichever church he was serving. The first was A Lenten Journey: Travels in the Spiritual Life Based on The Gospel of Mark, (1990). Then followed An Advent Journey: Preparing the Way of the Lord (1993). The third book in the series was Psalms for the Journey: The Lord’s Song in Ordinary Time, (1996). His most recent work, The Bible Says. . . How Good is the Good Book? was published by Wipf & Stock in 2013. He has also been a strong supporter of full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons, as well as other minorities, in the life of the Church
Larry is an avid reader of contemporary fiction and non-fiction. He also loves cooking and baking artisanal breads, and has pursued a serious interest in travel, art museum-crawling, and fine art photography for fifty years.
Since retiring to their home in Brunswick, Maine in 2016, he has been teaching part-time at the Maine School of Ministry (UCC). He has also taught in the United Methodist Course of Study which is similar to MESOM. He and Carol are members of the choir at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on most Sundays, but also regularly attend Hope Gateway United Methodist Church in Portland to support that congregation’s intentional ministry to immigrants and asylum seekers. Currently, he serves on the Board and as a volunteer at The Gathering Place, a day-shelter ministry for the homeless and marginally-housed. Carol has been heavily involved in leading a corps of volunteers helping to support and integrate twenty families of asylum-seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola. They have two daughters and four grandchildren.