RUMFORD – The Rev. Robert Plummer decided he wanted to go into the ministry when he was 10 years old.
As a child, he attended the Chestnut Street Methodist Church in Portland where he had a youth minister who really impressed him.
“He was my idol. I wanted to be like him,” Plummer said Tuesday afternoon. “He was very loving and concerned and aware of the problems of the day. He helped me get over my stuttering and had me help with youth worship.”
Plummer, 82, will be honored for his 56 years in the ministry by the United Methodist Church of Rumford from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 30, at the church.
The Rumford church was his last pastorate before he retired from full-time ministry in 1986. He served the local church for 12 years.
At that time, he pastored both the current Methodist church and another former Methodist church on Franklin Street. That church closed in the early 1990s and combined with the Linnell Street church.
As a child of the Great Depression, his family couldn’t afford to send him to college or seminary so he waited until after he fulfilled his military duty during World War II where he served in the U.S. Army in Europe from 1943-1945, then he used the G.I. Bill to attend Mt. Union College is Ohio, followed by Boston Seminary.
For more than 40 years, he served as the pastor of a variety of Methodist churches in the state, beginning with the York Methodist Church while he was still a student, then as a pastor of four small churches in Waldoboro in the early 1950s.
He’s pastored both small and large congregations, churches, including at churches Lewiston and Brunswick. And since his retirement, he has rarely stood still.
He’s been called on to fill-in for vacationing or ill pastors dozens of times in Methodist, Congregational and Baptist churches throughout the River Valley, Bethel and Farmington areas.
Illness has slowed him down a bit during the past couple of years, but he knows he chose the right vocation.
“I love working with people. I like to see the changes that come in a person’s life and to be there during family crises. I like being helpful and bringing the spiritual grace of God to everyone,” he said.
During the course of his long career, he has served on committees dealing with social concerns and has evangelized all over the eastern part of the United States. He’s been active in local social service groups, and he loves to sing.
As a pastor, he has always made it a point to visit with the local school superintendents, police departments and town managers whenever he moved to a new church.
“I wanted to let them know that I was willing to help,” he said.
He has visited the homes of every church member in his congregations at least once, too, and has visited people in hospitals and nursing homes.
“I get to know people as individuals and they get to know me as a human being,” he said.
When pastoring the Brunswick church, he helped organize a civil rights march down Main Street during the 1960s, similar to marches being held in Selma, Ala. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was in some of his classes at Boston Seminary, he said.
His career has been fulfilling.
A phone call he received last year affirmed his vocation.
“A youth called on Easter Sunday, thanking me for making him finish high school, something his parents couldn’t do. He now has a good wife and children. That’s gratifying,” he said.
He and his late wife of 40 years, June, have two sons and four grandchildren. She died in 1995.
Last year, Plummer got married again, to Phyllis Quinn. They reside on Somerset Street in one of the brick homes of Strathglass Park.