Read letters from Carl Agsten and Dr. Leslie Clay
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Carl Agsten and Rev. Leslie Clay
Carl and Leslie ended mission service with the PC(USA) in June 2013.
About Carl Agsten and Leslie Clay's ministry
Carl and Leslie were appointed in July 2009 to serve with CEPAD, the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua. They work through CEPAD’s Nehemiah Office, and their primary role is to help CEPAD in its communications with international partners. They do this through publications, newsletters and the Internet. They also facilitate visits of Nicaraguans to the United States and U.S. church delegations to Nicaragua.
CEPAD is a Christian, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of social concern. It is comprised of denominations, Christian institutions, and departmental pastoral committees that confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and desire to live out the gospel in service to others. Of the countries of Central America, Nicaragua is the largest in area and the smallest in population. More than 80 percent of the population live in extreme poverty. Since 2001 Nicaragua has been considered the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, falling behind Haiti.
About Carl Agsten and Leslie Clay
In reflecting on his service with the youth of First Presbyterian Church, Charleston, West Virginia, Carl wrote: “My recent work as a volunteer with First Presby’s youth groups has been a rewarding and transformative experience. Instead of one ‘Aha!’ moment in my Christian faith, my transformation came from expressing my beliefs to high school and middle school youth, week after week. I informed them, even as I learned myself, that my faith in Christ leads me to think soulfully with my heart, making sense of a confusing and changing world.”
Leslie, who spent a year as a chaplain at the Kukini/Queens Hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, recalls her service there in these words: “I was amazed at the experiences and stories I witnessed. It was a humbling experience because I wondered who am I to stand with these families as they say their last goodbye to their mother or their father, or to hear a story of a wife’s relief that her husband has died after causing her to suffer years from physical and emotional abuse, or to bless and name a stillborn baby. I learned that it is not ‘Who We Are’ but ‘Who They Are.’ To the patients and families we represent God, and that is why we are asked to participate in the most intimate of moments.”
Carl has an extensive background in construction and was the first certified construction specifier in West Virginia. He was the vice president of Agsten Construction, a project manager for Carlton Inc., and a construction specifier for ZMM Architects and Engineers. He also has been an instructor in the architectural technology program at West Virginia State University and an architectural historian for the state of West Virginia.
Leslie has always wanted to serve in mission. She went to southeast Alaska for two months as a Volunteer in Mission and returned to Alaska as a seminary intern, serving at the Utkeagvik Presbyterian Church in Barrow. At one time she spent three months in India. She helped mentor spiritual development, worked at a pastoral counseling center, and served as interim youth pastor at First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia. She served for two years as the director of Christian education and family ministry at First Congregational Church in Evanston, Illinois.
Carl earned his bachelor’s degree in English and art history from West Virginia University in Morgantown, where he graduated summa cum laude. He was the founding editor of Calliope, the university's literary journal. He earned his master’s degree in the history of architecture and urban development from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
Leslie earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Colorado in Boulder. She holds two master’s degrees, a Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, California, and a master’s in counseling from Marshall University in South Charleston, West Virginia. She also earned a doctorate from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, where her thesis topic was “Clergy’s Response to Domestic Violence.” She has also studied at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, and pastoral counseling at Loyola University in Chicago, Illinois.
Leslie and Carl are members of First Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia. Carl is ordained as an elder and served on the session for six years. Leslie was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament September 13, 2009.
Leslie and Carl have two daughters, Kai and Ella. They adopted Kai, whose name means “Ocean” in Hawaian, from China in 2007.
Carl - February 8
Leslie - February 1
Kai - May 28
Ella: August 1
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Hello!!!! Leslie., you and Erika were in my school, Calhoun Middle/High School, just yesterday, December 6, 2011. And I cannot tell you how amazing I thought your presentation was! You mentioned going to Nicaragua,. and I would honestly love to go, seriously! Even Senora Myers said we should go! Please write back! Love, Amber
Carl met with my Sunday school class today and gave a sermon at Clifton Presbyterian Church near Lewisburg, WV. He also gave a great benediction at the end of the worship service. Perhaps he would email it to me if you contacted him. Thanks, Larry Davis