New Pastor for Asylum Hill Congregational Church

12/15/1973 |


The Courant reported that Asylum Hill Congregational Church had selected Walter D. Wagoner to succeed Bernard T. Drew as senior minister.

Neat little tidbit

Drew served as senior minister for 24 years, second only to Joseph Twichell in length of tenure.  Drew Hall is dedicated to him.

Trust but verify

This Courant article is unusual in that it doesn’t refer to Wagoner’s call to service, nor does it say when the special pastoral selection committee made that call.

Put into context

Bernard Drew was going to be a tough act to follow, given his long tenure at the church, but even still Wagoner came from a very different background than Drew’s.  Wagoner’s career had largely been in academia, holding several administrative and one faculty position over the course of 25 years, and the closest he came to a ministry at a church during this period was as university chaplain.  Just before answering the call from AHCC, he served as interim minister at the First Congregational Church in Sharon, MA.

Speculation without facts

AHCC’s website describes Wagoner as an “unusual choice,” apparently because he was old (55!) and because he’d never held a full-time pastorate, but the website also says that he began an “intellectual renaissance” that saw a growth in membership, reorganized the church’s structure, and connected the church with Asylum Hill.  Drew’s “exit interview” with the Courant suggested that AHCC planned to do just this, and Wagoner may have been selected because he was enthusiastic about this undertaking.


Unattributed, “Asylum Hill Selects Its New Pastor,” Hartford Courant, December 15, 1973, page 27.

Walter Wagoner
Asylum Hill Congregational Church


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