Pastor Garry Genser

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Garry Genser grew up in the countryside near Chicago, Illinois.  In the quiet and beauty of nearby forests he would sometimes sense a peace that was not found in his turbulent home.  Not knowing the difference between the creation and the Creator, Garry kept looking for more of this kind of peace but could not find any that he could take home with him or take to school with him.

When he was fourteen he became a Catholic.  Under  the incense-filled stone arches a sense of mystery and awe would remind him of the peace  he felt in nature.  Soon he entered a Benedictine monastery in the woods of Arkansas and stayed for two years.  Lying sometimes prostrate on the cold marble, before the tall and distant gilded crucifix hanging high above the stone alter, he would cry for some sign of reassurance, for some sign that there was life and reality to the mysterious symbols. He wanted to be touched, to have a personal relationship that would heal his heart.   But the gilded form of Jesus remained distant and cold above the linen-shrouded alter.

Leaving Subiaco Monastery several years later, Garry gave up on religion, coming to believe it offered only naive symbols to appease the conscience of hypocrites.

Over the next 15 years Garry would travel, write several books, become a poet/artist in the “artsy” circles of Chicago, join a new age cult, drive a cab, return to school and become a teacher,  marry his wife Suzanne and start a family, become a real estate  investor, found and incorporate a Montessori school, and all without ever filling that empty space within his soul.

His wife Suzanne, who in the aftermath of a sports-related injury began searching for a Christian church, encouraged Garry to go with her but he had “evolved” way beyond such hypocritical trappings as organized religion and would not go with her until one day she announced that she would try the Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Because Garry knew some Adventists who seemed healthy and content and because there seemed something consistent and genuine about the Sabbath, Garry consented to go.  Arguing against the message from the pulpit in whispers to his wife during the sermons, the gospel message was blocked out for a while.  But Garry ran out of arguments before the minister ran out of the Word of God and eventually Garry began to listen.

The first of two events which helped to establish his belief that Christianity had a powerful, life-changing quality occurred when his Pastor, Elder Ron Clouzet, demonstrated humility. After a brief moment of impatience with Garry's stubborn refusal to surrender in spirit to the primacy of God’s word.  Elder Clouzet, pastoring his first church at the time, put relationship before pride and sincerely aplogised for his moment of impatience.  This demonstrated the very humility Garry needed to adopt before he could humble himself before God in repentance.  This touched Garry’s heart and made him more vulnerable to God’s Word.  

The second event which convinced Garry of the validity of the Bible was when he began to actually put God’s word into practice.   When, for example, he actually began to pray  for  business competitors,  he was flooded with a peace that dwarfed all prior experiences.  He experienced the peace that transcended understanding and he would from then on give himself to the Author of that peace, by the grace of Jesus Christ and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Within months Garry began to hear a call to train for the ministry.  Astonished, he needed the Lord to pave the way with miraculous interventions before he could believe that the Lord was serious.  The miracles have never since stopped.  Garry was called to Northern California where he served as an intern in Chico for two years under a patient Elder Albert Liersch , while his wife Suzanne finished her teaching credential.  Afterwards Garry became the Pastor of the Miranda  church where his wife taught the one room church school.

After pastoring in California for twenty years Garry was called to the Vienna Seventh-day Adventist Church in Vienna, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC., where he feels honored and blessed to minister with such excellent fellow elders and an vibrant associate pastor, Jennifer Deans.

Suzanne continues to teach and to collect teaching credentials and degrees like some people collect stamps.  Suzanne is Garry’s best friend and her unselfish devotion to her school children, as well as to their own grown up children, Dana and Lara, continues to serve as an object lesson of God’s love that encourages and inspires Garry.

Garry and Suzanne praise God for His faithfulness and for the beauty of His love which accepts us all, although we deserve nothing, and makes us heirs to His Kingdom.