A four-and-a-half-year stint in Gore has rounded off the 36-year career of Calvin Community Church senior minister Keith Hooker.
Mr Hooker and his wife Frances will return home to Tauranga after a farewell service on February 4.
Mr Hooker said as well as 26 years at St Peter’s Presbyterian Church in Tauranga before coming to Gore, the pair had enjoyed the experience of ministering in Africa, India and Malaysia.
“Our experience here has really capped off a great diversity.
“We’ve lived in big cities in the tropics and now a small town in Southland,” Mr Hooker said.
The pair had enjoyed their time in the South.
“We’ve loved our southern experience and I keep telling my northern friends everyone should have one.
“The people are lovely – just genuine, good-hearted people.
“The streets are wide and you don’t have traffic jams,” Mr Hooker said.
“I’ve enjoyed being in the South as well, especially the lovely people – I’ve found them very friendly and generous,” Mrs Hooker said.
Although her health had not been great, Mrs Hooker had conducted a boys’ choir for two years.
impact on those young boys’ lives – I really felt that’s worthwhile.”
Serving people and helping them to connect with God was the central focus of his life, Mr Hooker said.
“My passion will always be people-related.
“Every person is interesting, every person has worth.”
While he was retiring from fulltime ministry, Mr Hooker hoped to continue in part-time work.
“We’ve worked overseas in seminaries and churches in the past – we love that kind of experience but you do have to be well to do that.
“I’m also aware that there’s ministry opportunities in churches for retired ministers.”