By Greg Klein STAFF WRITER
---- — As the new minister at The United Methodist Church in Cooperstown, William Delia said he knows he is replacing a popular church leader.
“It is always difficult to step into a role that someone else has done so well,” said Delia, who is known as “Pastor Bill” to his parishioners.
Delia and his wife, Regina, arrived in Cooperstown early this month to replace the Rev. Sundar Samuel. Samual and his wife, Deb, left in June to take over at East Greenbush United Methodist Church in East Greenbush, near Albany, after 10 years in Cooperstown.
“I didn’t know Sundar until I started the transition here, but I have come to appreciate his gift for ministry,” Delia said. “The only thing I can go by is I have to do it my own way and not try to fill his shoes. I have to bring my own touch to it.”
Delia, who served for eight years as pastor of two small churches near Saratoga Springs, Broadalbin UMC and Edinburg UMC, said he believes in a relationship-based approach to ministry through community and congregational service.
“That is something that I hope to achieve through Sunday morning worship, through outreach in the community and through anything else that will make an impact in other people’s lives,” he said. “I think it is something that the congregation here is quite used to doing.”
Delia got his bachelor’s degree from California State College in Sonoma in 1970. He originally entered the seminary in the ‘70s, but left school and instead worked for the American Red Cross for 30 years. After retiring, he resumed his seminary training. In 2009, he received his Master of Divinity from Andover Newton Theological School. In 2012, he was ordained as a church elder. He has also served as a youth minister and a counselor for people with addictions.
“It is the call that I first felt as a teenager, the call that God continued to place before me and the call that took me a biblical 40 years to answer,” he said. “I am living proof of God’s patience and persistence.”
The Delias have two adult children. Jennifer lives in Ballston Springs with her husband, Brian. Michael lives in Broadalbin with his wife, Megan, and their daughter, Roslyn. Delia said it was Michael who got him to be a Yankees fan.
“I am a big baseball fan,” he said. “Going to school in California, I was a Dodgers fan. It is a little harder to keep up with them on the East Coast. But my son is a die-hard Yankees fan, so he has kind of converted me.”
Delia said he is also an enthusiastic paddler and looks forward to getting his kayak out on the water. But before he does that, he said he knows he has a lot of work to do.
“We’re unpacking right now,” he said. “We’re up to our eyebrows in boxes. Of course, we’re also busy getting to know the community and the congregation. It is going to take some time, but we’re very blessed.”