Pastor Herb preparing his farewell sermon
After 40 years in ministry, the Rev. Herb Shafer, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church, Mt. Pleasant, will preach his final sermon Sunday, June 16.
“I have a farewell sermon of 10 things I have learned,” said Shafer, listing a few of those things as always try new things, be friends with the kitchen commitee and that the Bible is the number one teaching tool to help people grow spiritually.
“Wherever they are in their journey, the Bible is the best tool. That’s probably the best thing I’ve learned,” he said.
Growing up in Fairfield, Shafer was drawn to ministry after watching the pastor at his childhood church.
“My home church pastor was an outspoken advocate in the civil rights movement, and I thought ‘Wow, he really stands for something,’” said Shafer. “I think that really planted a seed in my mind and heart that a pastor can be somebody more than just somebody who sips tea and pats your hand but can actually be an agent for change and for good, and I wanted to be a part of that.”
His work first brought him to Delaware County for eight years, then another rural community in northcentral Iowa, Mason City for nine years, Clinton for nine years and finally to Mt. Pleasant for the past six years.
As he nears his retirement, he says he will miss watching the members of his congregation grow spiritually and go through the stages of life.
“I will miss most seeing people’s eyes light up in teaching Bible study and helping them find the path to God. More than that, I think, I will miss seeing the ages and stages of life,” said Shafer. “Many of those are great celebrations — to be able to have the couple (getting married) who I had in my confirmation class six or eight years before, that’s obviously a great, great thing.”
In the next stage of his life, Shafer plans to make more time for his three daughters and seven grandchildren.
“It’s going to be really good to get to know them well,” said Shafer. “We’ve had a lot of holidays when we’ve not been able to be together because pastors work weekends.”
Shafer and his wife, Jan, are moving to Bettonsport. For the last 13 years they have been restoring a home they purchased at auction and will now live there full-time. They plan to run a bed and breakfast on the side.
“I expect to be called to do preacher things because there’s always need for that, which is fine,” said Shafer. “Whatever the right balance is, God knows. We’re looking forward to the next chapter.”
Shafer will preach his final sermon on June 16, at 10:30 a.m. After, there will be a potluck dinner at noon in the Fellowship Hall to say goodbye to the Shafers.