Rev. Bill & Carol Lakota-Eastin '78
Bill is retired and Carol is superintendent of Kaskaski River district
Bill Eastin and Carol Lakota-Eastin, both 1978 graduates of MacMurray College, have dedicated their lives to the ministry – having 45 years under their belts as United Methodist pastors.
This calling was felt at an early age. “We are both from Peoria, Illinois, and grew up in the same neighborhood and attended Grace United Methodist Church on the southside,” Carol said. “Both active in our church, we felt the call to ministry as teenagers and came to MacMurray already planning to attend seminary after graduation.”
Bill and Carol recall Bishop Lance Webb holding convocation for young people who were considering church careers at MacMurray College. “We attended those,” Bill said. “And in addition to experiencing a deeper certainty of our Call, we also fell in love with Mac, its campus and its smaller, more intimate college setting.”
In July of 1974, Bill and Carol married, moved to Jacksonville and began their four-year journey at MacMurray College. During their time at the College, “Chaplain Jim Goulding became a dear friend and advocate,” Carol said. “And I remember weekly chapel services were grounding, which, back then, chapel was required of all freshmen and it became a part of our life together.”
Their dedication did not go unnoticed. The district superintendent of the United Methodist Church, Joe Mason, met with Bill and Carol and wanted them to begin preaching at local United Methodist churches.
That type of real-world experience along with their MacMurray education, helped them as they continued to the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
“At Mac, we received a solid liberal arts education that gave us the study skills and the higher thinking processes necessary for a theological education,” Bill said. “We have always cherished our formative years at MacMurray.”
Today, Bill is retired, and Carol is superintendent of Kaskaskia River District in the Illinois Great Rivers Conference for the United Methodist Church and is heavily involved in Native American ministries.
“A huge thing for my ministry, as a Native American person, is working in the area of native ministries,” Carol said. “I was the founding pastor of Dayspring Native American United Methodist Church in East Peoria. It is one of my greatest joys that this ministry is present in our conference.”
She recently led a volunteer team to Dayspring to work on their log cabin church building which she says is still needing more volunteer teams to come and help.
In 2012, the United Methodist Church participated in an Act of Repentance with Indigenous People at its General Conference Gathering. “I was very involved in the preparation for that including several listening sessions,” Carol said.
More recently, Carol helped lead a Why Water Matters Summit in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which gathered native people and United Methodist leaders from several states.
“My current and ongoing project that I’m on the design team for is a Native American youth program that occurs about every 18 months,” Carol said. “This fall we will be gathering 30 native youth and adults from several states including Ohio.”
This sense of purpose and direction blossomed at MacMurray and Bill and Carol hope current students absorb everything they can while at Mac. “Soak up the whole experience – the lovely campus, the faculty who know you by name and who are ready to help you cross whatever barriers you face,” Carol said. “And do not be afraid to ask for advice and direction.”
Bill added, “The wisdom you glean from your years at MacMurray will always be with you.”