Note: Ken and Clair chose to introduce themselves not by writing autobiographically, but instead by introducing each other. We hope this gives you some insight into our new pastors! Photos by Kali Bargeil.

Reverend Ken Sauer

I feel like I am bringing my significant other home with me for the first time to introduce him to my family. Sometimes, this can be an anxiety-inducing event, but it has never been so with Ken. I am so excited to introduce you to my husband, The Reverend Kenneth Sauer, who I know you will grow to love as much as I do.

The first thing you will notice about Ken is how friendly he is, the friendliest person I have ever known. I told our District Superintendent in Chattanooga that Ken would be different from any pastor FUMCOR has had before. First and foremost, Ken loves people, and he loves to love on people. His greatest passion is serving alongside others to simply share the unconditional love of Christ with everyone around him and everyone in the community. The greatest fruit of this drive in Ken is the two community food pantries he helped start in the Greater Chattanooga area, which combined distribute more than 500,000 pounds of food to the hungry annually! Ken knows how to bring diverse people together for a common mission. Thousands of lives have been touched because of his love for the least, the last, the lost, and the lonely.

Ken has known since he was five that he would enter the ministry. His faith is deep – forged through many ups and downs – and he will share the story with you in time. But from the very beginning that faith has been consistently nurtured by his parents, especially his mother. Pat was an amazing woman – she began each day reading the Upper Room devotional and spent countless hours volunteering at their local church. She instilled that faith in action in Ken and modeled a faith we would all do well to emulate.

You will also quickly learn that Ken doesn’t do anything halfway. He loves his children deeply and invests immensely in them. He is a hard worker who won’t stop until the job is done – and if it’s not well done, he hones the work until he is satisfied. Over our nearly 14 years of marriage though, I have learned that Ken isn’t a workaholic, he’s a serve-a-holic. Everything he does is so that others might feel comfortable, satisfied, filled, happy, and especially loved. I have heard so many stories through the years of people blessed in myriad ways by Ken’s ministry, and I know each of you will be blessed by Ken’s ministry as well.

I do not think words can express how excited I am to be returning to First Church. But I am even more excited that FUMCOR’s newest pastor is Ken Sauer. There is no doubt in my mind that Ken will serve this church and this community well, and my prayer is that through our work together with all of you, God’s name will be glorified as Christ’s love is shared. 

Pastor Clair

Reverend Clair Sauer

Clair and I will have been married fourteen years this September, and I have heard a lot about First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge over those years. You are the church that her grandfather Ben St. Clair served in the 1970s, where Clair was baptized and confirmed. You are the community of believers that helped form her faith, introduced her to the love of Christ, taught her about Jesus, and ultimately inspired and approved her as a candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church. We were even married here. You played a big part in forming Clair into the person she is today, and she is not only a wonderful person but also a fantastic pastor. Clair is now being given the opportunity to serve you in ways that you have served her.

Although she and I have never pastored the same church at the same time, I’ve watched Clair work behind the scenes, and she is the same person you see on Sunday mornings, Wednesday evenings, or in the hospital. She lives what she believes, and she really, truly cares. I can’t count the number of times when, on a day off, she’s received a call that someone was in the hospital and then dropped by within the hour or as soon as she could, no matter her previous plans. She agonizes and cares deeply about congregants who are having a rough time and families who have lost loved ones; she loves and respects deeply the people she serves.

I’ve heard her preach and watched her teach. I’ve witnessed as she has led meetings, stood up for the marginalized, and helped create innovative ways to do ministry that reach new people for Christ. I’ve also marveled at her skills as she has led churches out of financial difficulty and into sustainability, and I have often thought to myself that if I ever needed a pastor, I’d choose Clair.

Clair and I have different gifts and approaches to ministry. She is strong where I am weak, and she would be the first to tell you that I have strengths that she does not. Because of this, it has been a dream of ours to serve together as co-pastors of the same church. Now, we have been granted the opportunity, and there aren’t enough words to describe how very blessed and excited we are to be appointed to First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge. I can’t wait to see what God has in store as Clair falls back in love with you, and you with her.

Your Servant in Christ,
Pastor Ken