YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Rev. Dr. Timothy J. Kennedy has been given the title of Pastor Emeritus by his former congregation.

Grace Lutheran Church in Yorktown Heights bestowed the honor upon Kennedy at a Father's Day ceremony. Kennedy retired from Grace last October but still holds a special place in the hearts of the parishioners. The honorary title recognizes Kennedy's 37-plus years of service at the church on the corner, located on the corner of Curry Street and Gomer Street. The congregation is being currently led by Interim Pastor Susan Nagle.

Over 200 people attended the June 19 ceremony. Congregational president Bill Ritterbusch and church council member Kathy Slater presented Kennedy with a crystal plaque reading in part: “We honor you for your tireless perseverance in serving our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As our shepherd we thank God for the deep compassion, dedication and generosity you have shared with your flock for over 37 years. May God bless and keep you safely in His arms as you continue to serve in the next phase of your life. With much affection and gratitude the people of Grace Lutheran Church.”

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Following the worship service where Kennedy was the guest preacher, the congregation hosted a brunch so that the members would have an opportunity to visit with the retired pastor and his wife, Nel.

Reflecting on his years at Grace, Kennedy reminisced: “When I came to Grace it was a very small congregation with a very small building. But the church was filled with enthusiastic people.  Working with these great people and taking a leap of faith, we decided to build an enlarged sanctuary and our first fellowship hall which were dedicated in 1981. Adding this dimension to the church gave us many more opportunities for ministry and the church began to grow. It is so satisfying that now it is one of the largest churches in the Synod with one of the finest facilities—still filled with lots of enthusiastic people of diverse background.”

He and his wife Nellena now live in Carmel. They enjoy spending time with their three grown children and their families, which now include four grandchildren. The grandchildren are members of Grace and when the Sunday School sings in church from time to time, they will not be surprised to see “Grandpa” sitting proudly in a pew.

Bruce Waldman is on the Evangelism Committee at Grace Lutheran Church.