The Rev. Dr. Rodney L. Aist is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church assigned to work with the Methodist/Waldensian community in Milan, Italy and vicinity.
The Italian Methodist Church is federated with the Waldensian Church to form a progressive Protestant presence. It welcomes immigrants from many parts of the world. The congregation in Milan has some 300 members who represent 18 nationalities. A smaller multicultural church is located an hour's train-ride away. Rodney works primarily with the English-speaking congregation.
Dr. Aist, commissioned in the fall of 2011, is an elder of the New Mexico Annual Conference, where as the director of the Four Corners Native American Ministry, he administrated congregations and local ministries on the Navajo Nation in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. He has also served churches in Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Wisconsin, and Scotland. He is a native of Arkansas and grew up in Warrensburg, Missouri, near Kansas City.
Rodney received a bachelor of arts degree from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, a master of divinity degree from Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, and master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom. He has also done specialized studies at a number of other institutions in the US and Europe. His academic interests include Celtic, Native-American, and Jerusalem studies, and he has an expertise in Christian pilgrimage. Dr. Aist is the author of two books, Voices in the Wind (2003), a memoir of an around-the-world pilgrimage, and The Christian Topography of Early Islamic Jerusalem (2009), based on his Ph.D. dissertation.
A lifelong United Methodist, Rodney's church youth group provided the context for his early call to professional ministry, a commitment underscored in undergraduate school and seminary. During college and seminary, he took part in European-based study in Denmark and Germany. His first position after seminary was as an assistant pastor in the Church of Scotland. His extensive travel and international studies, he recalls, influenced his faith journey, including the truths that "we are in the palms of God's hands; we do not possess anything, rather God possesses us." Also: "God is constantly revealing and unveiling God's presence in new and unexplored ways." And, he says, the faith journey is never over.
Spending 17 months in Jerusalem over a three-year period gave him a deep concern for the plight of the Palestinian people. He sees similarities between the economic and political situations of the Palestinians and Native Americans. He has also come to appreciate interfaith dialogue and the sacred texts of other faith groups.
: New Mexico Annual Conference
, Rocky Mountain Annual Conference
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