Reverend Susan S. Shafer: A life in ministry

On Saturday, June 27th the Reverend Susan S. Shafer received recognition for her 34 years in the life and ministry of Asbury First United Methodist Church.  The evening took place at the Joseph Floreano Rochester Riverside Convention Center where some of Susan’s closest friends and colleagues had come to celebrate and remember her.

Susan has devoted her life to supporting people. Whether it is members of Asbury First where she was the head pastor before her retirement, members of our community in need of assistance, or the many members of her own family, Shafer has committed herself to being a part of their lives in many significant ways. Susan has strong ties to Irondequoit, New York where she grew up and currently resides. One of the first speakers to approach the podium was Jim Miller, her youth pastor at Lake Ave Baptist.  Miller kicked off the program that night with a quote from Rev. Dr Samuel C. Bartlett of Dartmouth College, “After all these years there seems no greater honor that can come to a person than the invitation, ‘come be our pastor.”

Prelude to a Call

Balance has been a big part of Susan Shafer’s life in ministry.  At Asbury First she has been a preacher, full-time pastor and administrator.  In addition to all of this she has been a mother to three grown children and a grandmother to many grandchildren.

Beginning a Career in Ministry

Former Asbury First head pastor Bob Hill provided an in-depth look, along with several amusing anecdotes in regards to Shafer’s time at Asbury First,

Susan carries that tradition of pastoral care, that combination of  psychology, theology and spirituality that was once more prevalent than it is today: Seward Hiltner at Princeton Seminary, the Danielson Institute at Boston University, Paul Tileg and Ann Belford Ulinoff at Union, that capacity to listen.

In order to reach this pinnacle of achievement, 34 years of ministering Asbury First’s congregation, Shafer had to take the first step to being ordained.

A Pastoral Life

Susan Shafer’s boundless love for the congregants of Asbury First was unrestricted by both time and geography.  It would be an impossible task to talk to the many lives she has touched over the years.  The following video is an edited version of recordings done on a Sunday in May 2015, a month prior to Shafer’s retirement date.

A Legacy of Care

During her career at Asbury First Shafer broke new ground in a number of other areas within the church.  She was instrumental in the church expansion that would eventually house the Greeting Center.  She led the technology committee in creating a video streaming service at Asbury First so members who could not be in the church on a Sunday had a means of watching the services take place.  Shafer also greatly influenced the church’s various outreach ministries.  These came to be known as pillars in the Rochester community for people in a time of need.


Here are the rest of what we called Susan Moments, more recordings from the people of the congregation thanking Susan for her many gifts.