Clergy Dance

West Liberty native’s autobiography describes how hometown shaped path into ministry

atha clergy dance


The Rev. Grayson Atha may not be a stereotypical West Liberty resident, but the conservative and tight-knit town has put an indelible watermark on its native son.

In his new book, Clergy Dance: The Making of a United Methodist Minister, he shares how the village has shaped his life and career as a minister during some of the most socially transformational decades of American history.

“Also, it has been written for the people of West Liberty, Ohio,” Atha writes in the introduction to the book. “It was this community that put a watermark on me early in life. Wherever I go, they are with me. Not always visible, but part of me. I want them to know what they did. Many who had a major influence on my life are fanned out in other places — and many are no longer living. But I still want this story told to their children and grandchildren.”

While the 170-page autobiography follows Rev. Atha, now age 81, as he studies and ministers throughout Ohio, tackling the challenges of sex, race and sexual-orientation along with the congregations he is called to lead, it is interspersed with colorful tales of growing up in West Liberty — where he has always maintained his parents’ historic home.


Read complete story in Thursday's Examiner
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