The Very Rev. Dr. Henry L. (Laurie) Thompson, Dean & President of Trinity School for Ministry, was our guest speaker at 8 am and 10:30 am on the closing Sunday of our Global Impact Celebration on February 17.
Laurie Thompson grew up in Toledo, Ohio. He has always loved leadership responsibility. At the age of 8, this began with the world of drama, as Laurie told his friends to join him in the barn hayloft where rehearsals would begin for the Garage Gang Players. He learned about General Francis Marion in fifth grade, and the swamp fox became an early icon of leadership for Laurie. At the age of 14 he was elected as Mayor of Kelly, Wyoming, and his first foray into the realm of politics. He attended the Hotchkiss School and spent his summers working in business through a local brokerage firm. By the age of 18, he was still trying to be in charge, but he met a beautiful young woman who told him that God was in charge. It rocked his world. He ran away to the Labrador coast to share in a mission effort with the fishermen of the coast. The experience shaped his early life as a Christian and still influences his love for cross-cultural mission. He returned thinking that he would become a carpenter only to discover his own impatience and frustration with slow and detailed kinds of work. He still loved organizing people and selling things.
So he went to college and “sold” Jesus. Beginning with a group of 10 people, he watched and developed a ministry that touched over 220 lives. At Denison University he developed a passion for history and theological debate. Next he taught at a boarding school founded by Dwight Moody. Hearing a call to ordained ministry, he then attended Trinity College, Bristol, England and took his M.Div. from General Seminary in New York City.
He studied at Eastern Baptist Seminary while serving on the staff of Good Samaritan Episcopal Church in Paoli, Pa, and finished his Doctor of Ministry at Trinity. After Paoli, Laurie served as rector of Grace Church in Trumbull, Connecticut for twelve years. Here he developed and grew his love for mission with trips to Ecuador, and yearly mission trips to Wakpamni Lake on the Pine Ridge reservation. He was also an active part in the development of St. Mark’s Day Care in the inner city of Bridgeport. His nineteen years of full-time parish ministry led him next to graduate level teaching. Combining his love for history and theology, Laurie has focused his interest on liturgy and worship, as well as broader issues of pastoral theology. He directed the Doctor of Ministry Program 15 years.
Mary, his wife, and he, currently live across the river from Ambridge in Coraopolis, Pa. They have three grown sons who are married and live in Rutland, Vermont, Hickory, North Carolina and Brooklyn, New York. The grandchild total recently hit 10, and they bring much joy to the Thompsons. He thinks a priest should look like Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple – always hunting down the details of people’s lives and patterns. He helped build a Cobblestone hotel in Ambridge. He is still selling things – mostly Jesus, as well as the value of good Anglican Prayer Book Liturgy. His favorite character in Scripture is Trophimus. Laurie and Mary dote on Sam(wise Gamgee), Gracie, Kiri(nyaga) and (Wa)packer, their four Standard poodles.