Lexington Pastor steps away from the pulpit after 40 years
This month David Shirey will step away from ministry after 40 years, including the last eight as Senior Minister at Central Christian Church, Disciples of Christ.
He’s only the sixth person to hold that title in the last 122 years of this historic, downtown Lexington church. He has great respect for the past, and hope for the future.
“I want to hand off at the top of my game, and it’s time for new leadership in this post covid era. I still have a lot of vitality, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, that I’m looking forward to offering.”
Pastor David, as he prefers to reverend or Mr., will turn 63 this Fall, is not burned out. Far from it. “No, no. I would say that the fire is still burning inside me, Sam.”
And it’s not just “his” retirement. Wife, Jennie of almost 40 years, is educated in ministry and supported her husband every step of the way. “It’s going to be a redefining of who I am because I have taken the role of pastor’s wife, pastor’s spouse, very seriously. So, I know I’m going to have some searching to do…to figure out where I fit.”
Pastor David sees them as a team. “We’ve all heard that stuff about behind every man. Let’s stop that stuff. Next to this man, this pastor, is another pastor, and that’s my wife who loves the church.”
The Shireys helped guide the congregation of about 600 people during the difficult Covid years.
“I spent a year and a half preaching to a cell phone camera. But I learned during that, that I have an important voice. And my people, though I could not see them, were telling me weekend and weekend out, we’re with you,” said Shirey.
Two longtime members of Central Christian say Pastor David’s leadership and personal touch with people were key. Jan Ehrmantraut says, “he was always stepping up for what was necessary to keep us invested in as a community during that covid time…he’s going to be greatly missed.”
Harry Richart is amazed by Pastor David’s energy. “He’s everywhere. We’ve all worried about him because he works so hard.” According to its welcome statement, Central Christian welcomes people of all backgrounds, races, and sexual orientation. Pastor David says he believes in treating all people with kindness and respect.
“We are all children of God. Therefore, everyone is a precious child of God. And I have told myself over and over, therefore everyone, everyone no matter their race, class, station in life, deserves respect and dignity.”
It’s a quality Harry Richart says Pastor David practices every day. “David teaches that way. Hi Sam. Hi Jan. Gosh it’s good to see you. It’s that feeling. And there’s nothing like someone who recognizes you, I think, who makes you feel befriended. That makes him special.”
Jan Ehrmantraut agrees. “David is an acute listener. David wants to hear your story. And he doesn’t forget it. And he can get a story out of people that may have never shared…their journey of faith before.” Pastor David steps away from Central Christian this month. He says he and his wife have faith this is not the end of their ministry. Jennie explains, “we never had a plan for how our ministry was going to end up. And so, we have simply trusted that God would lead us, and that has been the case.”
Wherever they land, Pastor David and his wife will bring humility and respect for what they offer. “It’s not a bully pulpit. Treat it with respect and reach out to those people and speak to them with dignity and with regard. My first calling is to be a pastor, that’s the word I appreciate the most. Not reverend, not Mr., not whatever, but Pastor David. First names (are) fine. Someone who cares about people.”
Central Christian will have an interim minister as the search begins for Pastor David’s replacement. He or she has big shoes to fill. Harry Richart quoted Teddy Roosevelt. “It’s not the person who sits on the sidelines and criticizes, or gives opinions, but it’s the person who, for better or worse, is in the arena, and that’s David and Jennie Shirey. We’re going to miss David a ton.”
His last sermon is on August 21st. Pastor David says he and his wife plan to continue living in Lexington.
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