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Angie Wieck, Published March 25 2012

It's My Job: Potter uses work as way to share faith

Ren Fuglestad has spent most of his adult life creating and teaching pottery. In 2007, he started using it as a way to serve as a witness of his Christian faith.

Fuglestad, of Glyndon, Minn., teaches pottery through Moorhead Adult Education. He recently talked about his love for teaching and about the analogies he sees between the potter and the clay and between God and his people.

Q: How did you get interested in pottery?

A: I graduated from Concordia College with degrees in art and biology, but I had never taken ceramics at Concordia. A couple of years later my wife (Judy Fuglestad) had to take an art class for her elementary education degree, and she chose ceramics. … I would go over there at night while she was a pottery student and I was like, ‘Wow.’

Where did you take your first ceramics class?

I took my first class from Marcel Stratton at Minnesota State University Moorhead in 1969. … I still have about 10 pots from that first year. … I went on to take classes and teach at Montana State University in Bozeman and Utah State University in Logan.

How long have you been teaching through Moorhead Adult Education?

I’ve been doing that for six or seven years. I started with one class. It eventually evolved into two classes when I started allowing my Monday students to come in on Thursday nights to trim their pots.

In addition to teaching pottery, I understand you also incorporate pottery into sermons you give at area churches. How did this begin?

It started when Pastor Jeff Seaver at Triumph Lutheran Brethren (in Moorhead) asked me if I’d bring my potter’s wheel in and if I’d throw pots (form pots on the wheel) during the service. … Throwing the pots was my initial contribution, and a sermon has evolved as I’ve done this over 30 times. … It’s a way for me to witness.

Can you explain something about how you incorporate being a potter into the service?

Centering the clay on the wheel is the most important, and the most important thing for us (as Christians) is to be Christ-centered.

When I’m opening up the pot on the wheel, I explain that I need to open it wide enough to support the pot while keeping a good foundation. Our foundation is the Bible and the word of God. Also, in opening it up, I relate it to opening up ourselves to the Holy Spirit.

I explain as I’m pulling up on the walls of the pot that there is pressure being applied from the inside and the outside. Every time I make a pull (pull up on the clay), the pot is growing. And so it is with us. We’re constantly growing. The pressure from the inside is the Holy Spirit and on the outside are all the pressures (i.e. temptations) working against us.

You throw your own pottery, teach pottery and now do these sermons involving pottery. Is there a part you enjoy the most?

I enjoy the whole process. I like doing the pottery, but it’s pretty much the teaching that I really enjoy. My favorite part is the students. … It’s being able to share and seeing the enthusiasm.

Do you sell your pots anywhere?

I sell mainly right out of a showroom in my house in Glyndon. I mainly sell to people through word of mouth.

To contact Fuglestad about his pottery or to bring his message to your church, call (701) 388-7773.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501