Davis Anderson, an Elisha intern, serving at Spearfish UMC, interviewed Rev. Royal Archer, a member of the Dakotas Conference 2020 retirement class. This article is the fourth article in a series of articles to honor retiring clergy. View all of the articlces here.
Royal Archer has had quite the spiritual journey throughout his life. As we talked, he told me stories about the good he has witnessed in his years of ministry. He also told me stories from his less than favorable younger years.
A native of Texas, Archer, grew up in the Nazarene church as a preacher's kid. Being a rebellious child, he rejected Christianity. It wasn't until Archer got to college that he began to feel the pull of God on his heart. In November 1971, he accepted Christ into his life.
He tried everything he could to avoid being a preacher but eventually gave in to what he knew to be God's plan. He served as a youth pastor in the Nazarene church from 1980-1982, and then as a full-time pastor until 1995 when he switched to be a United Methodist pastor.
When asked about who led him along in his journey, Archer gave quite a list. He was influenced by his extended family, of whom many were pastors. The person who had the most significant impact was his wife, Shari. She was an extremely caring woman who showed him what it was to be Christlike. As he grew with her, he became more servant-like in his life and ministry.
He talked about the church as a mentor for him. Throughout his life and ministry, Royal was positively impacted by many parishioners-too many to name. They taught him. "In the way that they have loved myself and my wife, and the grace that they have shown a pastor whose wife was chronically ill," said Archer. His wife Shari passed away in 2017, view a full obituary here.
Rev. Archer emphasized how much the church in Gregory influenced him. "All of the people were wonderful examples for him to follow, showing him what it means to love and care for others."
Royal is inspired by the people within the faith community who embodied the principle of investing in the future. One particular story, in which he asked me to keep the names anonymous, still resonates with him.
One of the couples in the church owned a successful business and was getting ready to sell it as they transitioned into something new. They had an offer of over $1 million for the business by a large corporation but turned that offer down. They sold the business to a young couple in the church for far less than what they had initially been offered. By investing in the next generation of believers, the new owners have been able to expand their business, remain faithful givers, and become vital to Gregory UMC's financial health.
"It is that faith principle of sowing seeds of sacrifice and praying for God to bring the growth that has sustained the church through times of hardship and distress," said Royal.
Archer felt assured that the seeds planted would take root and produce spiritual fruit. Granted, they didn't sit around waiting for those seeds to grow. They were on the lookout for the opportunities that God would provide.
If Archer could give one bit of advice to people during this whirlwind of chaos in our world, he would say, "You gotta wait on God."
Even though we are sometimes scared and distressed about many things, Archer says, "We need to take this opportunity to listen to God, listen to each other, and learn lessons for life."
Rev. Archer has lived long enough to live through distressful times of the Cold War, Vietnam, assassination of John F. Kennedy, Civil Rights movement, and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., to name a very few.
"Every time the world has survived, and it will continue until God determines something different. The most important thing for people to realize is that we don't live in isolation. We must listen to God, listen to our neighbor, listen and learn what we can do to grow as individual believers and as a community of faith."
Archer plans to stay in Gregory throughout his retirement, serving the community in new ways as long as he can.