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New career as author taking root for Ripon minister
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Chuck Roots has a spiritual aura about him – a unique characteristic for a church pastor whether in a small community the size of Ripon or in a larger city. 

He has served as the leader of the small congregation of the Ripon Free Methodist Church in downtown Ripon for the last 16 years.

Roots doesn’t have to wave a religious flag to get his word out, he just does his best by being himself. The pastor is retiring later this month and is being honored by his church members and the community at a 6 p.m. spaghetti dinner on Sunday, May 18, at the Calvary Reformed Church hall located on Second Street and Vera Avenue. 

The Ripon minister is also well known in the community for his barbershop quarter singing with the Golden Valley Chorus.

Roots is planning a new retirement career by authoring a series of books. He already writes a thought-provoking weekly column for the Ripon Record as well as presenting it on line. His literary focus is a great-grandfather who served in the military in the civil war and later a circuit riding preacher. 


The first book he is planning already is entitled: “The Fighting Parson.” He hopes to have a follow-up series from the memoirs of that grandfather who created a manuscript on his life’s journey. Roots was given that manuscript in 1989.

Pastor Roots and his wife Isaura are heading for his native New England at the end of the month for an extended vacation that will take them around the U.S. in their travels. 

The often soft spoken pastor sometimes draws on the deeper voice of a radio announcer when he needs to make a point has his own military background. He signed up for the Marine Corps in 1969 and later served in the U.S. Naval Reserve retiring, as a captain.

Daughter Laura Roots Spence, a staffer at the Ripon Chamber of Commerce, said she will long remember those nights before her dad shipped out on a mission with the military. Laura said her dad would sit for hours and record children’s stories – stories that he would normally read to his kids at bedtime. She said that gave him the solace to known he would still be touching them every night in his special way while he was at sea.

Roots said it was in 1969 when his parents moved from their New England home to Alameda in the Bay Area – the same year he joined the Marines. After his tour with the Corps, he came back to Northern California and earned a degree in broadcasting from San Jose State.

Recalling his youth, he said he didn’t grow up in a church setting, realizing something wasn’t right with him and with the world. It was in 1972 that he “wandered” into a Christian service in Kosko, Japan and the Lord led him in a new and different direction, he said. An owner of a number of Christian radio stations offered him a job in broadcasting, but instead he went into the seminary after graduating from college. He entered the chaplain service in the Navy in 1982 and eventually settled in Fresno, later moving to Turlock where he served at the Monte Vista Chapel for several years.

From Turlock he was tapped in 1998 by the superintendent of the Free Methodist Church with the opportunity to first preach in Ripon and then to become pastor of the century-old, historic, white church in the downtown. 

“I parked the car in front of the church, saying to myself, I’m back in New England – a white church in the middle of town,” he quipped.

Roots has had the opportunities to preach all over the world to Christians and to Muslims alike. His wife Isaura has retired from her association with the Foster Family Agency and most recently from Parents by Choice in Stockton.

The first link in their travels starting next month will be to Roots’ brother’s home in Virginia. Early in June the Ripon couple is getting on a plane for London and then on to Paris where they will “hook-up” with the Alexandria Harmonizers Barber Shop singers. Roots brother and nephew Josh both flew helicopters in the Marine Corps. Josh was introduced to Barbershop by his Uncle Chuck and is now a leader in Barbershop in Virginia.

The focus of his book will be about the life of his great grandfather who was a pastor and circuit rider serving in the Civil War and later in an area of East Texas. Those horse and buggy preachers served in a period from 1750 to 1910 when the religious men from differing denominations would stop to preach in various towns that made up their territory. Their church members might not see them again from four weeks to two months. 

His grandfather was born in 1884. Root noted that his mother hadn’t been born until 1915.

In his planned travels through the historic battlefields of the East Coast, Roots said he wants to see where his grandfather was in the Civil War and how it relates to his manuscript. 

 “I want to have a mental and physical picture of what he saw and what he did,” Roots said.