Rev. Susan Shafer to Retire in June
The first ordained woman minister at Asbury First United Methodist Church, Rev. Shafer has been a pastoral leader of the Asbury First faith community since 1981. She served as membership care minister for many of those years, and became known for her outstanding compassionate care to members during difficult or challenging times. Rev. Shafer has guided countless individuals and families through the joys and bereavements of their lives: births, baptisms, weddings, personal crises, and end-of-life care. Her unfailingly positive outlook on life and stalwart support of every member of her parish family have become a hallmark of her ministry at Asbury First.
Rev. Shafer became senior minister four years ago, and has since then led a church that is marked by growth and vitality. Asbury First's increasing outreach efforts, in particular, have grown under her leadership to meet the continuing needs of the homeless, the hungry, and those suffering from illness or loss.
In announcing her retirement, Peter Abdella, chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, said "We will miss Susan so much for all that she has done these past 34 years for each of us and our families and our community. But we are so happy for Susan and her husband John in the time that they will have ahead for them and the new ministries that they will pursue."
Regarding her tenure at Asbury First, Rev. Shafer wrote in her retirement announcement letter to the parish, "It is truly my privilege to have answered God's call in my life with such an amazing and faithful people of God as Asbury First! Your eagerness to live faithful, fulfilling and abundant lives, your trust given to me in listening to your hearts and together discerning God's presence and nature, as well as experiencing Christ's healing presence, has give me fulfillment, incredible joy, and an ever-deepening appreciation for the power and instances of God's movement in our lives."
During the next month, Asbury First's Staff Parish Relations Committee will be in conversation with Bishop Mark Webb and our District Superintentent, the Rev. Ted Anderson, on Rev. Shafer's successor. The church has been advised that an announcement of that successor will occur early next year, and will be announced to the congregation as soon thereafter as possible.
In June, a celebration will be held in honor of Rev. Shafer and her ministry at Asbury First – details will be released as available. Until then, said SPRC chair Abdella, "we will continue to be blessed by Susan in her leadership and her ministries, and we will likely have unofficial celebrations many times along the way."