I love summer. Even as I write, I am sitting on our back deck, soaking up what’s left of the late afternoon sun. The birds are singing, neighborhood children are playing, and my wife’s flowerpots, in full bloom, are exploding with color! It’s a beautiful thing to watch the seasons change around us, and this can be true in life as well. With a mix of emotions, I announce to you that this summer marks a change of season in the life of one of my dearest friends, Pastor Gary Thomas.
Hard as it is for some of us to fathom, after 26 years of pastoral ministry here at Calvary, this faithful man is retiring, at 77 years young. He and I have talked about this day for many years, as we knew that it would come. In true Gary fashion, his decision also came with much thought and prayer. He simply wants to give more time to his family, especially his grandkids and great-grandkids, and I’m sure that they will take all the extra time they can get with the world’s greatest grandpa!
While Gary will be stepping down from an official full-time pastoral position on our staff, he certainly hasn’t lost his love for this church or his passion for ministering to others. As the Lord leads, I have no doubt that his ministry, in a more limited and informal sense, will continue just the way he likes it – in simple conversations with people – centered around Jesus and His Word.
If you ever happen to find yourself in the fortunate position of having one of those conversations with Gary, I hope you listen carefully. If you do, more than likely you will come away with a stronger desire to pursue an intimate walk with Jesus, a more practical understanding of how to apply His Word, and a growing love for people.
If the conversation continues, you’ll learn more about grace, wisdom, and the importance of family. You most certainly will hear great stories, and probably have some good laughs! And as you walk away from that simple conversation, don’t be surprised when the thought occurs to you, “My life just got better.”
Note: I believe Gary would be the first to acknowledge that he could not be the man he is, or have the ministry he’s had, if it were not for the Spirit-led influence of his incredibly faithful wife, Rosemarie. She, too, has had a mighty impact in this church, for decades, ministering to kids and women of all ages.
I encourage you to express your thoughts of love and appreciation to both Gary and Rosemarie in a simple letter, card, email, or conversation. Knowing how their lives have pointed you to Christ and His Word will mean the world to them.