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Corkum not saying goodbye, but see you later

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AMHERST – Byron Corkum is not saying goodbye to his congregation at First Baptist Church. He’s saying until next time.

Corkum will take to the pulpit at First Baptist Church in downtown Amherst for the final time as a full-time minister on Sunday, ending 28 years of ministry in Amherst and more than 40 years with the Baptist church.
“It really hasn’t hit home yet, to tell you the truth,” Corkum said Wednesday as he looked over the piles of boxes that hold more than 40 years of memories of ministering to congregations in Amherst, Bridgewater and Lawrencetown. “After all this time in the church it’s more than a job, it’s family. Everyone here is my family. But I’m not saying goodbye. I’m still going to be here in Amherst, but instead of being the minister I’ll be what I call myself – a pew warmer.”
Corkum expects to be called upon from time to time to lead funeral services and fill in when needed. He also plans to continue writing his Viewpoint column for the Amherst News.
Sunday’s service will also include the church’s close friends from Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church. The two churches have shared summer services for many years. He’s keeping the contents of his sermon a secret, but chuckled saying he plans to have his five favourite hymns sung.
Continuing as minister was an option for Corkum, but at age 65 he decided it was time to move on and enjoy retirement.
“My wife and I talked about and decided that we wanted to enjoy a long retirement,” he said. “Too many people are not making it past certain ages and if were going to do anything while we have good health we’re going to take full advantage of it. Hopefully we’ll have five or 10 or more good years ahead of us.”
He’s hoping to do a bit more travelling with his wife and both his parents and his wife’s parents are still living. Now they’ll be able to visit them without having to rush back to Amherst.
“It’ll be nice not to tear anywhere for a while,” he said. “Our kids are in British Columbia so we can go out there and visit.”
After two years in his hometown of Bridgewater Corkum moved to Lawrencetown, where he spent 11 years. He was intrigued with the opportunity to come to Amherst and he never regretted it.
“The goal was five years,” he said. “The people are so nice here, the town is nice and Amherst is in a perfect location. It’s a comfortable place to live.”
Corkum’s replacement, Dan Green, is expected to arrive in early December from Chester. In the meantime, several guest speakers will take to the pulpit each Sunday, along with Rev. Don Miller.
Corkum said this is a time of great opportunity within Amherst in that all the churches in Amherst are soon going to have new ministers. Holy Family Parish has a new parish priest while Trinity-St. Stephen’s United Church is also searching for a new minister to replace Nigel Weaver, who retired earlier this year.
“It’s a good time when everybody’s new, and I’ll still be around to do funerals, weddings and hospital visits,” said Corkum. “I’m going to continue to work the barbecues each summer and peel the potatoes. I’ll be what I call a pew-warmer now.”
Corkum has seen a lot of change at First Baptist since he first arrived. Like most other churches, the number of people attending weekly services has been in steady decline, but on the positive the Amherst church has a solid core group of supporters.
One of the things that impresses him most is the number of people who just wander into the historic downtown church and simply sit and reflect because the doors are open.
“The church’s place in the community has grown a lot. One of my goals coming in was to make the church an important part of the downtown and the community. I think we’ve accomplished that,” he said.
darrell.cole@amherstnews.ca
Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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