TRAVERSE CITY — The Rev. Homer Nye is preparing to leave the pulpit and take off in a Roadtrek.
Since 1977, Nye has been pastor of The Presbyterian Church in Traverse City. On Oct. 31, or Reformation Sunday, he will don a kilt in a clergy tartan and deliver his final sermon at the church. Soon after, he and his wife will drive away in their camper/van for a months-long road trip across the country, stopping in Florida, Texas and California.
"Our goal is to visit as many national parks as we can," Nye said.
Nye studied chemistry in college and attended the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. He came to the Traverse City congregation after serving as a youth minister in Farmington. He was on a youth group trip and was contemplating his future as a pastor when he was alerted to a phone call for him.
"I had just decided I wasn't going to be a pastor," Nye said.
The call was from a search committee in Traverse City, seeking a pastor for the church. Nye knew he wanted to find a church that saw him as a person first "and then a minister." Nye and the Traverse City congregation aligned philosophically and Biblically.
"I came, and it just worked," Nye said.
He led the church through major building expansions and renovations, as the church grew from several hundred to the 1,200 present day congregants. It also grew in staff, adding two more pastors and other positions. Nye also serves on various community boards. He is pleased with the church's support of numerous local ministries such as Safe Harbor, an emergency homeless shelter that rotates hosting duties among local churches, and building homes through Habitat for Humanity.
Nye said an interim search committee has formed to hire an interim minister, following his departure.
"The interim will come and work with the congregation to help prepare them for the calling of a permanent pastor," Nye said.
As is church custom, Nye no longer will worship or conduct services at the church once he leaves. The purpose is "to make a clean break," for both the church members and the minister.
Nye will miss the preaching and teaching. He may volunteer to fill in at smaller Presbyterian churches throughout the region who could use his help when their pastor is on a break or vacation.
Loving God and loving one another has been at the center of his focus.
"We think that's what church is about," Nye said.