“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Hebrew 13: 2
Peace Church’s inclusive invitation to all and its many opportunities for service are what attracted Warren Post to this community. Warren and his wife Beth joined Peace in 1995.
Warren was raised in Zumbrota, Minnesota, in a Wisconsin Synod Lutheran Church. In retrospect, he found that his childhood church was insulated, but it gave him a comforting, traditional lectionary and liturgy. The church contributed well to its Lake Wobegon setting, and birthed Warren’s belief: “Faith is what you have, and religion is how you express your faith.” At Peace, he is exhilarated by the many ways we
have to express our faith. Our challenge is to find a way to communally honor our many choices.
Warren’s dad is his hero. “He never made a bad decision.” His dad loves his home in Zumbrota as much as Warren enjoys our Duluth hillside. His father advocates the “broken window” syndrome: “if we as neighbors keep fixing the little things together, our whole community can improve immeasurably.”
Warren came to UMD to study anthropology and stayed to settle in Duluth permanently. After graduation, he worked in a gift shop emphasizing Scandinavian design, which led to an apprenticeship helping to build the Jaeckel organ at Pilgrim Congregational UCC. For a while, Pilgrim was both his workplace and his place of worship. He admired the openness of the UCC tradition when Jack Kemp was the minister.
His next two jobs, Lutheran Social Service and Northland Children’s Home, honed Warren’s social work skills. At LSS, he was an employment specialist for a diverse group of — Hmong, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian, as well as Polish Great Lakes sailors asking for asylum.
His work at Northland Children’s Home groomed him for the able chaperoning and leadership he has provided for Peace trips. These have included two trips to Eagle Butte in South Dakota; a St. Louis, Missouri, inner city day camp in 2000; and a 2015 trip to West Virginia. Warren’s eyes light up when he talks about the work experiences he has had with Peace youth.
In 1989, he started working at the federal prison. He became known among inmates for his willingness to converse fairly while offering assertive advice about finding a goal to work towards on the “outside.” He wanted the prison system to return someone who could function in society rather than a “wolf.” His minimum security population could not serve more than 10 years in prison, so Warren treated them as prospective neighbors whose children would go to school with his children. He tried to help all, especially minorities, to develop self-esteem and to have hope.
Warren credits his favorite Bible verse from Hebrews as a mantra he used in his approach to working with inmates — always trying to find the good connections that could be made. Whether wearing a prison security uniform, driving a van to South Dakota, or talking to us at coffee hour, Warren is a caring, personable member of our beloved community.
Warren assigns his constant attempts to be fair, to his German stubbornness. Beth labels it “Teutonic tenacity.” He retired last year and spends his inexhaustible energy on vegetable gardening and taking care of his 18′ sailboat. And of course, attending Peace Church.
Warren’s love — for his biological family, his church family, and the inmates at St. Louis County’s minimum security prison — made our interview a heartwarming experience.
Interviewed by Steve Coll