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Commitment and love: Rev. Arlyn Coalter’s ministry journey

By: Abby Ferris, Samuel Project intern and member of First UMC, Pierre, SD

Coalter Arlyn 2017

Rev. Arlyn Coalter. File photo.

Arlyn Coalter was active in a church his whole life. He grew up on a farm and went to a small country church. After 10-years of farming, in 1990, Coalter decided it was time to answer God’s call to enter the ministry.

Words that frame Rev. Arlyn Coalter’s ministry journey are expertise, work ethic, commitment, and love.

From 1991-1993, Arlyn was a student pastor in Danbury, Iowa. In 1994, he served his first full-time appointment in Olivet, South Dakota.

Arlyn served the church of Tripp, South Dakota, in 1995 then moved to Aberdeen, South Dakota, in 1996 as an associate pastor. In 1997, he moved to serve the churches in Enderlin and Sheldon, North Dakota. After that, in 2001, he was appointed to Beulah and Hazen, North Dakota.

From 2003 to 2010, Arlyn served the churches of Arthur and Castleton. In 2011 through 2016, he was appointed to St. Paul’s UMC, Jamestown, North Dakota. He moved to serve the Hilltop United Methodist Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 2018.

“Each move is hard but always an adventure,” says Coalter. “Being a pastor, you have the chance to meet great people and have amazing experiences.”

Coalter recalls one summer, when he served the church in Arthur, North Dakota, he and the congregation built a cabin in the parking lot of the church.

“I was able to help build from the start, till the last nail was driven. When the cabin was finished, it was hauled forty miles to Wesley Acres, where it still stands,” says Coalter. The cabin, appropriately named Arthur, was where Pastor Arlyn slept while he was at camp.

Dr. Hugh Litchfield, Rev. Hank Kor, Rev. Howard Grinager, Rev. Steve Behrens and Rev. Bill Hoffman served as a support team and mentors for Coalter through his ministry.  These were people that he talked to and trusted.

Over the years, his faith has grown stronger, and his relationship with the Lord is more profound. Pastor Arlyn plays guitar and sings. Listen to Rev. Coalter singing, with other clergy, in a quartet at the 2018 Annual Conference.

“It is a way to get closer to God and show praise,” he says. “I am thankful for my wife. I could not have done it without her by my side.”

In retirement, Rev. Coalter will continue to serve part-time at the church in Olivet, South Dakota.  He is making a full-circle, returning to the first congregation he served in the Dakotas. 

“I will continue to show the love of God to all,” says Coalter.  “I pray that we move forward in these hard times of our world. I hope to continue the teachings of the Bible.”


Dakotas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church 605.996.6552 1331 University Ave. Mitchell SD 57301-0460 US 43.69689310 -98.03291320 122 W. Franklin Avenue Ste 400 Minneapolis MN 55404 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 W University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000 1331 University Ave Mitchell SD 57301 US 0.00000000 0.00000000