A Story of God's Grace
My spiritual journey began in Somers Point, NJ where I was born. My family moved to a small Township in northern NJ where I grew up. My family at this time was not a regular church going family, but my dad felt it was important for my sisters and I to receive instruction through a Sunday School in a little country Baptist church. That set a foundation which would have an important role later in my life.
As I grew up and made my way through High School, I did not attend church any longer, and found myself wandering from what I had learned in Sunday School as a young person. Following High School, I attended a private college in Ohio for one year. God’s grace continued to be extended toward me in a roommate who followed and loved Jesus. After that first year, I was unable to continue college for lack of finances and entered the workforce. It was soon after that I met a Free Methodist pastor who would love me and take time to teach me the meaning of those wonderful Sunday school lessons from my childhood. In 1981, I took personally the Gospel message and asked Jesus to make my life new.
As a young Christian, I attended a Nazarene Church with some friends, became a member and worked with the young people in the local Nazarene Youth International (NYI). In the winter of 1983, the Lord began to speak to me about becoming a pastor. I wrestled with God for six months. The following summer, I yielded to His call and was entirely sanctified. I then entered the course of study for the ministry.
I met Cathy while traveling with an outreach team to youth from our church in Sparta, NJ. September of 1985, we were married and began a wonderful life of service together. We have three adult children and five grandchildren. We worked with some friends on a church plant in northwest NJ beginning April of 1988. This church would be fully organized in December of 1989. In April of 1993, I was Ordained an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene, having completed the course of study through the North East Extension of Nazarene Bible College.
I graduated from NBC Online in May of 2003 with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry/Pastoral Ministries degree. In May of 2006, I graduated from the online Master of Arts in Religion/Spiritual Formation program through Northwest Nazarene University. In December 2010, I graduated from the MDiv/Spiritual Formation program at NNU. In December of 2018, I completed a Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Regent University.
In addition to NJ and Upstate NY, we have pastored in Maryland and Ohio. I am presently the lead pastor of Unity Church of the Nazarene, a multi site church in Zanesville, OH. I have served in various roles on the districts where I have pastored, and currently serve on the District Studies and Advisory boards. In addition to this, God has given me the joy of equipping disciples and ministry students for being and making disciples.
Dr. Walter N. Gessner, pastor and NBC online adjunct professor.
Filed Under: Communicator Published: 04/06/2020