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Rev Dr. Albert J. D. Aymer: First President of Hood Seminary, Dead at 84


Albert Joseph Daniel Aymer was born in the town of Liberta on the island of Antigua in the Caribbean on December 23, 1936, to Millanette and John Aymer. He lived in Antigua until 1959 when, answering the call to ministry, he entered Caenwood Seminary in Jamaica. His early ministry included parishes in Grenada and St. Vincent.

In 1967, he was married to Miss Shirley Delores Lewin. Following their marriage, he served as the first Caribbean-born pastor of Hawthorne Methodist Church in Barbados. Having been awarded a World Council of Churches Fellowship, in 1969-70, he spent an academic year studying at Lancaster Theological Seminary in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (USA), working closely with Dr. Paul Achtemeier, and graduating from there with the Masters of Divinity. In 1970, Rev. Aymer was appointed to a circuit on the island of Tobago, which included serving as superintendent of the Methodist schools. In 1972, he was appointed to a three-point charge in Jamaica, serving as the chaplain of the University of the West Indies, and the pastor of Providence Methodist Church and Constitution Hill Methodist Church.

In 1978, Rev. Aymer was accepted to pursue his Masters and Ph. D. in New Testament at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. During the dissertation phase of his doctorate, the United Methodist Church invited him to an executive position in their General Board of Global Ministries. Two years later, he was called by the Theological School of Drew University to be first Assistant and later Associate Dean. After twelve years at Drew University, he accepted an appointment as the Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church in Morristown, New Jersey.

However, his days in the academy were not behind him. Only one year into his pastorate in Morristown, he accepted the invitation to serve as Dean of a small historically Black seminary in Salisbury, North Carolina—Hood Theological Seminary sponsored by the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church. Over the course of twenty years, from 1994 - 2013, Dr. Aymer served as the Academic Dean of the seminary; interim president of Livingstone College of which the seminary was a department, and later as the first President of the seminary when it became an independent seminary in 2001.

When he assumed leadership of the seminary, Hood had fewer than thirty students. Upon his retirement, Hood Seminary had an enrollment of over three hundred students from sixteen different denominations, and was regarded throughout the Association of Theological Schools in the USA and Canada as a leader among its most racially inclusive seminaries and divinity schools. President Aymer served on numerous boards and agencies including a six-year stint on the Board of Accreditation of the Association of Theological Schools in the USA and Canada; and has received numerous awards, among which are the keys to the City of Salisbury, the Order of the Longleaf Pine – the highest civilian order given by North Carolina; and the degree of Doctor of Divinity honoris causa from Catawba College

After retiring from the presidency in 2013, he lived in North Carolina until 2017. A series of health challenges led him to relocate to Texas, and after five years of declining health, he died peacefully on November 5, 2021.

Rev. Dr. Albert J. D. Aymer is survived by his former wife, Shirley, and his three daughters: the Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer Oget with her spouse Dr. Laurent Oget; Prof. Valerie Elizabeth Aymer; and Ms. Ann-Marie Millinette Aymer with her spouse the Rev. Kristen Claire Foley; and by his grandson, Gabriel Albert Charles Oget.

Memorial services will take place at South Orange-Vailsburg United Methodist Church in South Orange, NJ on December 11 at 11 am. An additional memorial service and interment will be held at Ebenezer Methodist Church in St. John's, Antigua on January 6, 2022 at 10 am. A celebration of his legacy at Hood Theological Seminary will be scheduled for later in the Spring of 2022. For information on the later services, please contact Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer Oget: maymer@austinseminary.edu.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to The Albert J. D. Aymer Endowed Scholarship Fund at Hood Theological Seminary. Donations to that Endowed Fund may be made at https://www.hoodseminary.edu/donate/donate-now.