Northern Light says goodbye to pastor

Posted: Sunday, June 08, 2003

After 10 years of serving his congregation, Northern Light United Church Pastor Greg Lindsay will celebrate his last service there at 10 a.m. today.

"It's the right time for me to move to another church," Lindsay said.

That other church is the First United Methodist Church in Twin Falls, Idaho. Lindsay plans to leave Juneau at the end of June.

"I will miss it, very much," he said. "... I'll remember the people that have come through the church, the way that I think that they've grown toward becoming a stronger congregation," he said.

Congregation members have noticed that growth, too.

"One of the things that he's done that I think is going to be lasting for the church is he really believes the pastor ... isn't the only leader in the church," said John Pugh, a church member who will emcee Lindsay's going-away reception after the 10 a.m. service. "The members have to step up and be leaders in the church."

Because Lindsay encouraged congregation members to become leaders, the transition from Lindsay to a new pastor will not be as difficult as it might have been, Pugh said.

"We will be successful because we have strong leadership," he said. "Without that message we wouldn't be able to do that."

Lindsay also made a musical contribution to the community.

"He's brought a lot of upbeat, good feeling to the church because of his music," said church council chairman Jay Ginter.

Lindsay livened up the 9 a.m. service on Sundays by adding upbeat music. He also formed the bluegrass band "River of Life."

Ordained a deacon in the Methodist church in 1977, Lindsay began serving his first church in 1980. He was ordained as a church elder in 1982.

Before coming to Juneau, he served in Baker City, Ore., at a church that differed from Northern Light in many ways, he said.

Northern Light is "a larger congregation, more diverse and younger," he said.

The Northern Light congregation is more active in the community, Lindsay said, but he takes little credit for that.

"I think it was something I supported and affirmed, but I don't think it was something that I needed to push very much, because the folks there are active in a lot of ways," he said.

Northern Light United Church hosts a number of community events in its building, on 11th Street downtown, and its members participate in several service projects.

The building in itself is one of the ways the church serves Juneau, Lindsay said.

"We offer the building as one of our tools for making an impact in Juneau," he said. "We have many diverse groups active at the church, and some are church-affiliated, some are not."

In Idaho, Lindsay expects to meet different types of challenges.

"I think Idaho is going through some economic challenges," he said. Twin Lakes is "an agricultural community, and it's always struggling with getting enough water and getting a good price for the crops."

Northern Light plans to find an "intentional interim" pastor to serve for one to two years before finding a new permanent pastor, Lindsay said. The interim pastor will be trained to help the church seek a long-term pastor.

"We'll want to make sure the individual is a good preacher," said Pugh. "Also, we're looking for somebody who has good communication skills, who can relate to people."

Christine Schmid can be reached at

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