About a month ago, I heard a startling bit of news: John Bigelow was planning to retire as pastor at St. James Reformed Church in Mount Pleasant and leave town.
"And," my source added, "it must be true, because his lawn mower is for sale."
I've mentioned John Bigelow before. He's passed along news of community concerts, events and fundraisers, and I've always enjoyed talking with him. So I got in touch with him to schedule one more visit.
First, John is the sort of person who will never retire, in the sense that he will never stop spending his days with purpose and activity.
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He is leaving full-time local ministry for a variety of reasons, chiefly to spend more time with his grandchild.
Working weekends, it's hard to find time to be with his family in Raleigh. After 10 years at St. James, it seemed the right time to pass his duties to a younger person.
But he is not quitting ministry. He says he would love to fill in at churches looking for pastors. He loves preaching and evangelism and he likes to make hospital visits. Perhaps a stint as a hospital chaplain is in his future.
Whatever comes next, John Bigelow will no longer be based in Mount Pleasant. He and his wife, Sue, will move to Hickory. She'll look for a job, and he has several projects in mind. He plans to spend many days writing.
John Bigelow has had a few books published, including a collection of "viewpoints," like daily devotionals. He'd like to do another collection, but he seems most enthusiastic about the novel he's writing, set in the fictional town of Goodness, N.C.
Goodness was founded by Isaac Munson (I.M.) Good and has produced generations of Goods, including Dr. Able N. Good, banker Steel M. Good and bandit Norton Otis (N.O.) Good.
John says he'll miss Mount Pleasant. So, "If I can't be here, I'll create it" in the town of Goodness. But Mount Pleasant residents won't recognize anyone in his fictional town, except maybe the assistant police chief's dog, who is based on John's golden retriever Tiffany.
While at St. James, John has really become part of the Mount Pleasant community. He's a member of the Lions Club, and has served on the Friends of the Mount Pleasant Library board and as a trustee for the Cabarrus County Library. Just about everywhere he's lived - and that's a lot of places - John has had a place to go for coffee every morning before he goes home and gets to work. He says he'll miss his friends at Hardee's, and he'll have to start again with a new place for coffee.
John sees these changes as a beginning, not an ending. He's open to whatever God has in store for him and trusts that very good things are in his future.