Beyond the Pastor’s Office: A Pilgrimage to Cooperstown – Albert Lea Tribune

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Beyond the Pastor’s Office: A Pilgrimage to Cooperstown

Posted at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 19, 2022

Across the Pastor’s Office from Don Malinsky

This vision began when my wife Barb and I first visited Cooperstown. I visited the obvious site, the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF), and then walked around town. In my walk, I came across a site that I had not planned to visit. It was Cooperstown United Methodist Church. The doors were open, I walked in, looked around, and my heart felt oddly warm (maybe it was the chili I had for lunch). I picked up their newsletter and said to myself, “One day I’m going to preach in this sanctuary!”

Don Malinsky

Fast forward to 2022. The year has started out wonderfully. Friday, New Year’s Day, I officiated a beautiful celebration of life for an unforgettable resident. On Saturday, New Year’s Day, a rare baptism of a resident’s great-grandson at the new chapel in St. John’s Fountain Lake, and on Sunday I served Holy Communion in both chapels from campus. I called the weekend a chaplain trifecta. A good start for next year.

The big departure was short-lived. On Friday, January 7 at 6:50 p.m., I received a ticket and lost my driving privileges. My third and last brother-in-law on my side of the family was diagnosed with cancer which ultimately claimed his life within months. St. John’s is appointing a new trustee, and all the while, COVID continues to distract all phases of operations from the care center and beyond. 2022 does not look too optimistic for this chaplain “Pollyanna”.

In my email, I read a notice from my United Methodist newsletter. The Lilly Corporation offered a welfare grant to any pastor of the United Methodist Conference of Minnesota/Dakota. A grant that would provide compensation for a cause, event or item worthy of health, wellness, even hiking shoes, the notice said.

I thought, “I’m going to apply for this grant, why not, what have I got to lose but Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat entering the HOF, this is the year to go! “

I submitted my wellness adventure in Cooperstown, complete with leading Sunday worship at UMC which I visited 12 years ago.

Miracle upon miracle, my application was approved. Thank you UMC!

Immediately, I mailed my credentials, plan, July time window, and motivations to the current Cooperstown UMC pastor. Weeks pass, no response. Eventually I emailed the pastor and the same day I received a response. Explanation of the delay. I did not include my email address. Regardless, he couldn’t help me because he was retiring in June, but he forwarded the request to the ward staff president, and she approved. I will be guest preacher at Cooperstown UMC on July 24th. The wheels are now in motion. The 12-year vision is becoming clearer!

“…remember the words of Jesus. There is more happiness in giving than in receiving. Acts 20:35.

This vision exceeded my greatest expectations. Little did I know that the adventure of faith would surpass the adventure of baseball, although in reality the two are intertwined. And that was confirmed with my Sunday morning post recalling my first humiliating experience with Rod Carew at Twins training camp – getting verbally shot down by Rod trying to get his autograph and adapting my approach by giving Rod a compliment that got him to come to me to talk, not about baseball, but about life… (if you want to hear the whole message, it’s on youtube/CooperstownUMC July 24). Essentially, my message conveyed the importance of giving rather than getting. A lesson we all need to review and put into practice. This led me to conclude my “Baseball Faith Message” with this gem: We should rename Target Field to Targive Field. To find?

Yes, Cooperstown 2022 was an “over-the-top” feel-good adventure, and I thank my family for letting me go. Watching my childhood heroes Tony Olivia and Kim Kaat and even David Ortiz receive their due will never be forgotten in my mind. Their God-based appreciation of their gifts/talents, communicated in their acceptance speeches, will never be forgotten in my heart.

2022 remains hopeful when we include God in the equation, and perhaps if we revisit/reword the famous JFK quote from the 60s to read: “Ask not what you can GET from your country, but ask rather what you can GIVE to your country and to God. world.

let’s all get to work and serve, remembering who gave us the gifts/talents to do so.

Don Malinsky is chplain to the St. John’s Lutheran Community.

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