Last Sunday, April 12, the Colfax UMC congregation recognized their Pastor Emeritus and his wife, the Rev. Joe and Carolyn Wagner, with a plaque in their honor on the huge stone in the church’s Garden of Memories that surround their church building. Rev. Wagner served the Colfax Church for sixteen years from 1988 to 2004 in conjunction with the Conference special appointment as co-coordinators of Operation Classroom in Liberia and Sierra Leone from 1988 to 2012. The Wagner’s, who live in the Colfax area, more recently served the Colfax Church as Interim Pastor from January to July, 2014. He was honored by the congregation as Pastor Emeritus in 2007. The recognition of Joe and Carolyn Wagner was part of the 90th Anniversary celebration of their current sanctuary building, which was constructed in 1924, and the 100th celebration of their current parsonage. United Methodism has a rich legacy in the Colfax community with the church being founded in Colfax in 1860 but it wasn’t until 1875 that they were able to construct their first church building.
Rev. Wagner was ordained an elder in the former North Indiana Conference in 1964. In addition to the Colfax congregation, he and Carolyn also served the New Hope, County Line, Sunnyside and Vaughn churches in the Georgia Conference and Uniondale, Hillcrest in Elkhart, Trinity in Lapel in the Indiana Conference. Rev. Wagner was the District Mission Secretary in four different districts in the Indiana Conference -- Wabash, Elkhart, Kokomo, and Lafayette and for eighteen years he was a member of the International Child Care mission program in Haiti, serving for six years as its president. From 1983 to 1987, Rev. Wagner was Executive Director of Intersharing. During his 16 years as pastor in Colfax, Rev. Wagner was also appointed as a missionary of the General Board of Global Ministries. He has led work teams to Oklahoma Indian Mission, Grace Children’s Hospital in Haiti, Brazil, Kansas, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi and Minnesota, Texas, Liberia and Sierra Leone and annually from 1987 to 2014 he traveled to West Africa to work with the Sierra Leone and Liberia Annual Conference in Education and Health in Africa. Rev. Wagner was honored in 2006 by having a school and a surgical unit named after him in Sierra Leone.