By Allison Trussell
FLORENCE—“Preaching is as close to a sacrament as you can get. It is a high privilege and terrifying responsibility to speak on God’s behalf.”
“Dwell on your relationship with God.”
“Your ministry won’t be a bed of roses, but remember you are a minister. You’re a child of God. It’s a great job!”
Those were some of the words of wisdom passed on from this year’s class of retiring pastors during a Service of Recognition for Retiring Pastors on Tuesday during Annual Conference.
Each of the 31 retiring ministers were recognized by the bishop and received a certificate for their years of service, which totaled 560 years collectively. Once everyone had been recognized and seated, the congregation enjoyed a video of the retirees who gave words of wisdom, shared memories of their ministries and brought laughter and tears to the group.
Several reminded pastors not to forget their families: “When you move, they’re coming with you!” said the Rev. John Culp.
The Rev. Reggie Rowell reminded us that we “are privileged to serve as an heir of Wesley.”
The Rev. Paul Frey, representing the outgoing class, passed the mantle to the Rev. Suzanne Walker, representative of the incoming class of ministers.
“I transfer this mantle from our generation to the young, indicating thereby that the responsibilities and dedication of the older generation will be caught up and carried on by the young, and the spirit of today’s Elijahs will rest upon today’s Elishas,” Frey said in a symbolic ceremony onstage.
The following retiring pastors were recognized: Barrett Thomas Alewine, Judith Ann Alford, Ruth Heykens Arant, Kay Adams Best, Charles Lee Bowman, Anne Gregory Bridgers, William Martin Burke, Kenneth Campbell Burr, John Wesley Culp, Paul David Frey, Miriam Joyce Graham-Hadden, Roger Marion Gwinn, James William Harris, Velma Martin Haywood, David George James, Ronald Lee Leonard Jr., Patricia Petway Mayfield, Albert Middleton Jr., Gilbert Dane Morehead, Barbara Lee Reid, Eldrige Bates Rowell, Kathryn Whitlock Scarborough, Barbara Rogers Segars, Mary Jane Shoemaker, Charlie Albert Short, Rufus Lenoah Snowden, Alexander Thomas, George Theodore Thomas Jr., Joseph Calhoun Watson III, Myrna Kay Westfall and Allen Dale Wolfe.