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Jacob’s congregation bids farewell to Pastor Scott Shay


Special to The Press

Amid hymns of glory and praise, the congregation filled Jacob’s Church, Jacksonville, Lynn Township, for the weekly worship and to bid their retiring pastor, Scott Shay, a final farewell in his role as their shepherd.

The day was the 14th Sunday of Pentecost and the stained-glass windows on either side of the “church on a hill” seemed to glow as the pastor conducted the service concluding his 33 years of service there.

Pastor Shay extended special blessings to the Hermany family as their youngest member was presented.

For the children’s service, the pastor invoked Mr. Rogers when he reminded them “there is no one just like you.”

Taking a container of seashells he had gathered at Sanibel, he gave one to each child.

“There’s something about these seashells I want you to understand,” he said, holding one up. “There’s no other seashell in the whole world just like this one.

“That’s how you are. That’s how God makes them. You are unique just like the seashell. You are beautiful and wonderfully made.”

As the congregants gave their prayer requests, the pastor prayed for those suffering the effects of the hurricane and flooding in Tennessee.

“I pray for my dear Jacob’s Church,” he added in the prayer request. “This is a time which causes us to reflect. I thank you for my entire ministry, for 44 years.”

Special music presented by Susan Stufflet and Joan Oswald augmented the many hymns offered throughout the service.

Pastor Shay has served for more than four decades, with 33 out of 44 years at Jacob’s Church, eight years at St. John’s UCC, Fredericksburg, Lebanon County, and three years as a Navy chaplain at Marine Corps Logistics Base. Albany, Ga.

He was drawn to the ministry as he watched Billy Graham on television.

“I understood at 8 or 9 years of age what I wanted to do,” he said.

“I was fortunate because God had a plan for me. God had his hand on me.”

To illustrate his point, the pastor recalled a particular moment while deer hunting as a youngster.

“I was alone in the woods and couldn’t get a breath,” he said, “When one of our hunters was walking by, he pounded on me until I got my breath back.”

The pastor admitted as a teenager he thought he would get a good paying job at Hershey Chocolate Factory, Quentin, Lebanon County, after graduating from high school.

Instead, he applied to Bloomsburg after writing his college essay on “the miracle of faith.”

“There’s no coincidence,” he said. “But my application was accepted.”

The pastor met his wife at Bloomsburg.

“Donna was the first girl I was introduced to at Bloomsburg,” he said. “We got married and had two wonderful children.”

After graduation, he attended Lancaster Theological Seminary.

“It’s wonderful in hindsight to look back on your life,” he mused.

“God is faithful. God is for you.”

In his closing remarks, Pastor Shay urged the congregants to “accept and believe in God and the Holy Trinity.”

“You are the salt and you are light. “You can make a difference.

“Give the new pastor a chance. I made my mistakes. I ask your forgiveness. It’s been an honor. I pray for God’s grace upon you.”

Youth leader the Rev. Tad M. Schlegel will serve as interim pastor.

Several tributes followed the minister’s parting words and the end of the service.

Jacob’s Church Board President Ron Belknap offered his appreciation on behalf of the church community.

He admitted that church members struggled with “what an appropriate gift for you” might be, joking they toyed with the idea of a trip around the world or a hunting trip to Africa.

“We want to thank you for your service,” he said, presenting gifts that included an engraved plaque and a large bouquet of flowers for the pastor’s wife, Donna Shay.

In a moment of levity, a 6-foot-long hoagie was hauled into the church in recognition of the pastor’s love of that particular sandwich.

A certificate for a trip was also presented and the congregants exited the church to break bread together in celebration.

During the children's service, Autumn Heintzelman received a seashell as a symbol of her uniqueness. PRESS PHOTOS BY ANNA GILGOFF
Pastor Scott Shay and his wife, Donna, walked the center aisle in flurry of emotions and good wishes at Jacob's Church.
Bryan and Lauren Husted and their children Landen, Caroline and Valerie recently joined Jacob's Church because of the family atmosphere.
The marquee in front of the church marked Pastor Shay's final sermon.