By Jason Duarte
For The Sun
This past Sunday marked the 30th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Scott Field at Wheatland Salem United Methodist Church.
The irony is, after graduating from Duke University Divinity School in North Carolina in 1979, Field was appointed to Wheatland Salem to close it down.
"As Scott likes to tell it, he didn't learn anything in the seminary about closing churches," said Associate Pastor Carol Griffith. "The folks still remaining in the church were praying about it."
With Naperville also growing at that time, Wheatland Salem's membership grew.
"Methodist pastors are normally moved by the bishop every four to six years," Field said. "Thirty years is unusual because this congregation needed to grow and develop, so that wasn't really a good time to call off the senior pastor."
Field's ministry has since grown far beyond Naperville's borders. Last week, he returned from a mission trip to India with Wheatland Salem member John Keefer.
Field explained how, at age 6, Indian children can be bought from their parents for 7,500 rupees to work for a farmer for about seven years. At the end of the seven years, the parent can buy the child back with interest.
"We love farmers, but we want to break the cycle," Field said.
When he was out there, he was looking at property so the church can build a school to "give a different future for kids," Field said.
Keefer said that when people greet each other in India, "it's more than a quick 'Hey, how are you doing?' but a five- to 10-minute-long greeting.
"So he (Scott) starts his sermon," Keefer said. "The guy to my left and a guy to my right nudge me, and one of them says, 'He's giving a three-point sermon!'â€‰"
Wheatland Salem has also built a community center in Tanzania and funds a hospital bed in Haiti year-round.
"We like to be in lots of other places," Field said.
For his 30th anniversary, the church asked the congregation to submit letters of thanks and appreciation to Field. A book, which was presented to Field Sunday morning, held more than 200 letters from people whose lives he touched.
Field unexpectedly received the book from Eileen Schroeder, 91, a member of the committee that hired Field when he came to Wheatland Salem 30 years ago.
"Thirty years is a good start," Field said, "but we're still growing. We're not done."