Nearly three-dozen clergy retirees remember years of service

By Allison Trussell

GREENVILLE—The conference honored 35 retiring pastors Tuesday, June 6.

Each retiree was welcomed by the bishop and received a certificate. They were also given a chance to offer memories, highlights and advice during a video presentation.

Whether a part-time local pastor or an ordained elder, nearly all of the retirees valued the sustaining relationships they’d built among the people they served.

The Rev. Debra Griffis-Woodberry appreciated being “a conduit to help people experience God’s presence.” That sentiment was echoed by several pastors.

The Rev. Debbie Miller encouraged those following her to “have fun, have fun in ministry. Be open, be flexible. Take seriously your commitment. … Enjoy the journey.”

Many of the pastors recalled their moments with children, whether they were being baptized or making the congregation roar with laughter at a response from the child.

Two pastors, Rev. Glenn Ribelin and Sidney Mims, recalled baptizing people in rivers. Ribelin baptized a man in the Broad River, and Mims used the Edisto River.

Rev. Phil Thrailkill encouraged pastors to not become shopkeepers. “Be a resource for the whole community,” he said, “not just the church.”

The Revs. Gene Feagin and Jo Ann Garrett reminded the conference to love each other and to be good listeners. “The church you’re serving just needs love,” Feagin said.

The Rev. Frederick Shepard told of needing fertilizer for his wife’s garden. One of his parishioners had horses and told Shepard he was welcome to muck out the stalls. “We need to remember to muck out stalls instead of filling them up,” he said as the conference laughed.

Following the video, the Rev. Alice E. MacKeil, representing the retiring class, passed the mantle to the Rev. Tenny Hutchinson Rupnick, representative of the incoming class, saying, “the spirit of today’s Elijahs will rest upon today’s Elishas.”

Those honored during the service were Kenneth William Barwick, Shirley Williams Dingle, Roger Russell Dodds, Ann Dease Everett, Eugene Lloyd Feagin III, Leslie Edwin Gardner, Jo Ann Armstrong Garrett, Douglas Wayne Gilliland, Richard Charles Goldie, Debra Elaine Griffis-Woodberry, William Edward Herlong, Jerry Mills Hill, Alice Elaine MacKeil, Deborah Holmes Miller, Sidney Wells Mims III, Marie Elaine Nuckles, Glenn Williams Ribelin, Leonard Clifford Ripley III, Carl Frederick Ritter, Augustus Rodgers, Bruce Evans Rucker, Caroline Adams Salmans, Frederick Johnson Shepard, Larry Glenn Smith, Richard Moses Smith, Keith Donald Sweat, Phillip Carlisle Thrailkill, Gregg Scott Varner, Mary Kay Wood and Paul Ariel Wood Jr. The following retired ad interim: Thomas Richard Bailey, Michael Esley Bowers, Steven Davis Gillespie, Diane Amanda Moseley and Robert T. Williams.

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