Hampton Minister Retiring After 45 Years

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Spent Last 15 years at Hampton United Methodist Church

By Patrick Cronin

Herald Sunday, Sunday, June 6, 2010

[The following article is courtesy of the Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]

The Rev. Carroll Moore is retiring after spending the last 15 years of his nearly 45-year career as pastor of the Hampton United Methodist Church on Lafayette Road.
[Patrick Cronin photo]

After spending the last 15 years of his nearly 45-year career preaching the word of God in Hampton, the Rev. Carroll Moore said it's time to say his goodbye from the pulpit.

Moore will retire as pastor of Hampton United Methodist Church on Lafayette Road at month's end. His last service will be June 27 at 9:30 a.m.

"How do I want to be remembered? Somebody who loved people and someone who loved God," said Moore, 69, one of the longest serving reverends in the church's 175-year history in town. Age and a desire to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren made his decision a little easier. "It's time," he said.

When he was young, Moore never dreamed this would be his calling in life. Growing up on a small farm in Vermont, Moore said he wanted to be a teacher or, better yet, a coach of a baseball team. But God, he said, had a different path for him; a path he first began to explore while he was at Michigan State College. Moore recalls once hearing a speaker who was a missionary in the Congo in the early 1960s during the revolution. The speaker's wife and children were killed during a massacre.

"I heard him speak one Palm Sunday and he still had such a deep faith about him," Moore said. "I thought I would like to find out a little bit more about that. How can you have so much faith and go through that experience?"

After graduating college he went to seminary at the Boston University School of Theology, where he made the commitment to devote his life to God.

"And it didn't hurt that you only had to work one day a week," he joked.

He started out working in churches in Michigan, then Vermont and finally New Hampshire. What he enjoyed most about the different churches was that he got to become a part of people's lives.

"You get to be there for all the sacred and special paths of people's lives," Moore said. "You're there for the baptism of a baby, their confirmations and their weddings. It's such a tremendous honor to participate in that and a real honor to be a part of their lives."

But with joy comes sadness.

"Some of the saddest times was early on in my ministry career when I worked in a small parish of 70 and we had three young servicemen who died in Vietnam," he said. "I remember talking to one of the parents who told me the loneliest walk he ever took was when he had to go to the train station to get his son's body."

Moore said he thoroughly enjoyed his time in Hampton. He's most proud of how they opened the church over the years to the community, whether it to be for Alcohol Anonymous meetings or to provide a space for Rockingham Meals on Wheels. The church also joined the Seacoast Interfaith Hospitality Network, which provides temporary housing for the homeless and operated a soup kitchen at Hampton Beach.

"The outreach of the church has been good, but there is always more that can be done," he said. The real success of the church, he said, belongs to the laymen. "They are the ones who do so much," he said.

Moore said he has many fond memories, including running the Boston Marathon six times to raise money for Heifer International, an agency with a goal to help end world hunger. But the one time that sticks out is when the church threw him a surprise party in honor of his 40th year of preaching. Not because it was a party in his honor, but because it was the last time his entire family was together.

"All my family was there and it was the last day we, my siblings, were all together," he said. "My brother died of a massive heart attack a week later. When I look back at that day, it was so full of laughter, fun and celebration."

Moore said he will miss preaching. The majority of his sermons were taken from everyday life. "My style of preaching is more storytelling," said Moore, who noted it was a trait he got from his father. "They come from living and observing life around us. I think the presence of God is all around us. God doesn't restrict himself or herself to just those who go to church."

Moore said he's glad he can retire on his own terms. Health problems the last few years nearly forced him into an early retirement, including a major heart attack during a service in 2007. He plans to spend his time traveling, working in his vegetable garden, kayaking with his wife and "hopefully watching the Red Sox beat the Yankees."

He hasn't ruled out guest preaching, but not until at least a year from now. "I'm going to miss the people. I'm excited for this church and I'm praying they will give the same love and support to the new pastor as they have given me over the years."

At a glance

Community members are invited to an open house at Hampton United Methodist Church to celebrate the retirement of the Rev. Carroll C. Moore and his wife, Lora, Sunday, June 13, from 3 to 5 p.m. Refreshments will be served in Carter Hall. The church is at 525 Lafayette Road, Hampton. For more information, call 926-2702.

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