On Sunday, January 20th, 2013 following the worship service, the members of Congregational Church in Wilton, Connecticut unanimously approved the Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas as their 37th Senior Minister in this church’s nearly 300-year history. He is the church’s first African American minister. Most recently Rev. Thomas served as Minister for Education, Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations at the Riverside Church in New York City and Adjunct Professor of Religion at New York Theological Seminary. He previously served a variety of ministries, including Pastor of the First Congregational Church (now Faith United Church of Christ) in Little Rock, Arkansas; Chaplain and member of the faculty of Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut; Pastor of First Congregational Church in Williamstown, Massachusetts; and Conference Minister of the Vermont Conference of the United Church of Christ.
He was also President of the Criminal Justice Ministry of Arkansas; Co-founder and Vice President of the Arkansas Conference of Churches and Synagogues; Co-founder and President of the Human Rights and Relations Task Force of Northern Berkshire County, where he was the recipient of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Peacemaker Award; President of the Vermont Ecumenical Council; Co-founder of Toastmasters of Riverside Church (TORCH), which in two years has already risen to become the premiere Toastmaster chapter for the development of communication and public speaking skills in New York City; and Co-founder of the Center for the Study of Science and Religion at Riverside, a cooperative program of the Riverside Church and Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Science and Religion. He is also Co-founder of the Network for Human Understanding, an interfaith effort to build sustainable, empowering communities in every economic environment; and has initiated Riverside Church’s first new church start in cooperation with the church’s Korean Christian Fellowship.
Before pursuing a career in ministry, Rev. Thomas seriously considered becoming an actor having won several awards as a youth in humorous and dramatic interpretation and, as a young adult (during his first pastorate), playing lead roles at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also a lyricist whose words have been published as hymns.
Dr. Thomas received his Baccalaureate in Religious Studies and Philosophy from Hiram College, his Master of Divinity from Yale University receiving the Wolcott Calkins Award for excellence in preaching, and his Doctorate in Ministry from Hartford Seminary. He is the husband of Victoria Anne Short, and the father of three adult children: Devon Lee Julian Thomas, Ethan Eliot Thomas, and Adria Anne Thomas.