The Reverend Russell Sargent
The Reverend Russell Sargent
Let us remember the life and ministry of Rev. Russell Sargent who died on April 25, 2016 at his home in Cairo, NY. He was born June 3, 1919 in Joplin, MT. He was raised on a dairy farm in Red Wing, MN and graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN. His son John wrote, "My dad went to the Church Triumphant around noon today. My brother Paul and I were with him when he passed. His desire to live and his work for the Lord kept him going for a long time."
Rev. Sargent began his public ministry in 1944. He pastored churches in the New York Conference in North Fenton, Red Hook, Elizaville, Margaretville, Franklin, Athens and High Hill. Russ's ministry included the Catskill UMC for over 20 years and his love and passion for that congregation had a huge impact.
In 1967 Rev. Sargent made regional and national news when he rode his horse, Lord Baltimore, over 220 miles from Red Hook, NY to John Street Church in New York and to Bridgeport, CT delivering sermons in commemoration of the role of circuit riders as part of the 200th anniversary of The Methodist Church in the United States.
Rev. Sargent served a tour as pastor on the Queen Elizabeth II from California to Australia, but declined an offer to continue long term in that position. Instead he went to Drew University and earned a master of divinity degree and met and married Nancy Stella Borgese. After their marriage they began a sixteen- year journey serving as Methodist missionaries in Chile, Costa Rica and Mexico.
While in Chile they lived and worked in primitive conditions among the Araucanian Indians, riding a horse to preach in the villages. During this period Rev. Sargent established several Methodist churches and a boarding school. Called to a mission in Costa Rica, he preached at the work farms set up by the United Fruit Company. Again he established Methodist churches. Many years later a youth camp, “Campamento Metodista Russell Sargent” was named in his honor. The third mission call was to Mexico, where he directed the Heifer International Project, which taught families the basics of animal husbandry. He was involved in many critical aspects of the ministry, including traveling to the US to bring livestock to Mexico. He purchased land on behalf of The Methodist Church to build churches, schools and hospitals. After retirement, Rev. Sargent went again to Mexico and Costa Rica as part of the Volunteers in Mission program.
Russell was known as a compassionate, positive and spiritual man. Those who knew him appreciated his many "corny” jokes. Russell and Nancy were a devoted couple and were married for 45 years. Nancy predeceased Russell in 2012.
Russ is survived by his children, Jeanette Sargent- Hill and her husband, Arthur, of Red Hook, NY; John Sargent and his partner, Tracey Farley, of Cairo, NY; Luther Sargent and his wife, Graciela, of Basra, Iraq; Paul Sargent and his wife, Jerelyn, of North Greenbush, NY, and David Sargent of Albany, NY. In addition he is survived by many grandchildren and great grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Russell is also survived by a host of friends.
There will be a time of visitation on Friday, April 29, 2016 from 10 a.m. to noon at Catskill United Methodist Church. The funeral service will then follow at 12 noon at the church, with Rev. Michelle Lewis officiating. Catskill United Methodist Church is located at 40 Woodland Avenue, Catskill, NY. Interment will follow in the Cairo Cemetery, Cairo, NY. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Sargent Mission Fund, c/o Catskill United Methodist Church, 40 Woodland Avenue, Catskill, NY 12414.