Arnold Isidore Thomas, M.Div., D.Min. | Pastor | Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Arnold ThomasRev. Dr. Arnold Thomas was inspired to become a pastor after watching his father, LeRoy Chadwick Thomas, who was a conservative pastor, and by the works of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While he differs in views from his father, he always respected how he answered questions theologically, spirituality and in his best ways through the Bible. When he was ordained as a minister, Rev. Dr. Thomas chose his father to be his keynote speaker due to their conversations and learning experiences together. Throughout his studies, he was inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and decided to embody and exemplify his work as a religious leader. He was also motivated by Letty Russel, his professor and advisor at Yale Divinity University. She was often referred to as the “founder of feminist theology,” but in his life he credits her as opening his mind to better understanding God, humanity, and the human relationship to the world. He appreciates her influence upon his life in ministry. His mother, Lorene Marjorie Ware Thomas, was an important influence in his growing years also. His mother was an elementary school teacher and she was the one who influenced his love of reading, writing, and literature.

In his academic pursuits, Rev. Dr. Thomas first earned a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and philosophy from Hiram College in 1976. He continued at Yale Divinity University to receive a MDiv in 1980, and later earned a Doctorate in ministry from Hartford International University for Religion and Peace. He has been a pastor with the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Jericho, Vermont since 2017, and has also been a practiced his spiritual teachings at The Riverside Church in New York, the Wilton Congregational Church in Vermont, the First Congregational Church in Arkansas, Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and for congregations in Massachusetts and beyond.

Coming full circle to his love and appreciation for the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rev. Dr. Thomas received a Martin Luther King Jr. Peacemaker Award in 1998. He is also the recipient of the Wolcott Calkins Award for Excellence in Preaching, a Public Speaking Award, and several humorous and dramatic acting awards.

Rev. Dr. Thomas came to Vermont as the executive minster for United Church of Christ in the state, commonly referred to as the congregational churches. He came in 1998, at a time when Vermont was considering civil unions, same-sex marriage, and at the same time, his denomination was discussing whether it should be welcoming people of different sexual orientations and how people should receive them. In that capacity, he helped the state towards becoming what is known as an “open and affirming conference,” welcoming people regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. He considers that an important step. In every phase of his ministry, there has been important issues that he had to address. In 1999, he was featured in the African American Jubilee Edition of the Bible. Another career highlight was when Rev. Dr. Thomas moved to Williamstown, MA, another college town, where he helped several people to organize a northern Brookshire human rights committee that mainly address issues related to human rights that were happening in Brookshire County. The organizers of that group in different years was acknowledged by the community as being peacemakers.

Rev. Dr. Thomas considers his philanthropic work to be the some of the most important work of all his endeavors. He has initiated programs, such as Food for Thought, co-sponsored by Mount Mansfield Union High School in Jericho, and the Racism in America Forum, co-sponsored by the Vermont Racial Justice Alliance and Mount Mansfield Community Television.


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