BY SHANNON DUFF, THE MINTO EXPRESS
HARRISTON — Rev. Mel Sauer has stood behind the Harriston United Church pulpit for 12 years. This month, he preached his final sermon before he officially retires on Aug. 1.
“I’m 65,” Sauer said, smiling. “Both my wife and I are in reasonably good health and we want to take advantage of that. It’s been good. We’ve served well, we’ve been blessed, now is the time [to retire].”
Sauer has been in the ministry for 29 ½ years. Formerly an electrician, Sauer explained he felt a nudging from the Holy Spirit and encouragement from his former church community in Niagara Falls to pursue that endeavour.
Sauer was ordained with the United Church of Canada in 1989. He has served with the Alma and Goldstone United Churches before coming to Harriston United Church in 2000.
“There are great people here,” he told The Express. “There was always a challenge and new ideas. There always seemed to be something vital going on.”
Sauer said working with the community and local ministerial association were highlights of his work, as was starting a worship band within Harriston United Church.
The band has developed over six years through the direction of Sauer and organist Helen Craigie.
“It’s great fun and I think appreciated by the congregation,” he said. “It’s a blend of contemporary music and old favourites.”
Sauer emphasized how much of a blessing the ministry has been.
“As much as I’ve been sincere in my attempts to minister to people, I certainly acknowledge the ministry that comes back to me,” he explained. “There’s a saying: ‘A person is blessed to be a blessing.’ I think I’ve experienced both and I celebrate that fact.”
“There’s a song that says, ‘take off your shoes, you’re standing on holy ground,’” continued Sauer. “Ministry is a challenge at times, but it was always a blessing. The blessing is being able to walk with the congregation on holy ground through times of joy and times of sorrow.”
During retirement, Sauer said he plans to relax, enjoy his time and do some traveling. He and his wife have four children and four grandchildren.
“We look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with family,” he said.