Lakeside Presbyterian Church has welcomed Dr. Wayne Cook as its new Pastor of Congregational Care. His ministry will be responsible for supporting church members in sorrow, sickness and setbacks, ranging from hospital and shut-in visits, counseling for those suffering hard times and fellowship for the elderly.
Louisiana born-and-bred, Cook attended the New Orleans Theological Seminary, where he received a doctorate in Theology. His career path has been wide ranging, from being a pastor in Louisiana and South Dakota, a prison chaplain, director of education at Louisiana’s Rayburn Correctional Institution and a seminary professor in Canada, to name just a few of his jobs.
Cook’s eyes twinkle as explains his interest in prison chaplaincy. “I decided it would be easier to work with inmates than with deacons.” The real reason: he’d read a book on the subject and became intrigued with its challenges.
During his tenure at Rayburn, Cook created the only secular college degree program at a state prison in Louisiana. He supervised existing educational programs in literacy and General Educational Development (GED), expanded vocational degrees, started an academic associate degree program and a Master’s program for inmate chaplains.
Cook made an unusual transition from that job to the position as Rayburn’s assistant warden.
Remarking on working with inmates, he says, “By and large, they’re not that much different than people anywhere, if you treat them with respect.”
After retiring from the prison system, Cook and his devoted wife Andi did some traveling. They were drawn to Mexico by one their three sons, who resides in Guadalajara, where he has been a teacher at the American School for 14 years.
“We felt that God was leading us here,” says Andi. “Before we decided to come, I basically told God that he needed to sell our house if he wanted us to move to Mexico. One week later, after more than six months on the market without a single look, a buyer walked in, bought it, paid in cash and moved in immediately. So, I think God really did want us here.”
They settled in at lakeside last October, keeping busy with remodeling the home they purchased in La Canacinta. While retirement was the plan, fortune placed them as neighbors to Lynn Turnbull, Lakeside Presbyterian’s acting Care Ministry Manager. It didn’t take long before the church had found its new pastor.
“The main reason I accepted the post is because the ministry focuses on outreach in the community, such as distributing meals and pantry packages and developing water supply projects for the needy, along with visiting shut-ins, the elderly and current or prospective church members,” Cook says. “It’s great. This is the first church I’ve been in where they do ministry with church on the side, and not vice versa!”