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Retirement Party for a Pastor

It's a party post for you!
Take a look at this retirement party we had for the Children's Pastor of our church.

Our beloved Children's Pastor (Pastor Mary) just retired in December...and guess who was in charge of the party?  Yep, me!  Actually, truth be told...I volunteered! 

I so adore this wonderful lady (she has a pretty great husband, too), that I just HAD to throw her a great retirement party! She has been an instrumental part of my life and my children's!

Because the party was in December, we went with Christmas colors of red and green
and the party theme was (you know I have to have a theme!): GIFT. 
What a 'gift' Pastor Mary has been to us.

The party was held immediately after our Sunday morning church service.

One very talented church member was in charge of the food.  A brunch buffet.
We asked many people to bring in egg casseroles to add to the menu of sausages, potatoes, fruit, and Swedish Cardamom rolls. (We attend a Swedish church that always requires good Swedish food.)  Coffee and juices were served as well. 

(Don't those Swedish cardamom rolls look amazing?!  And don't you just love those fruit towers?  Remember seeing one displayed with vegetables in this post?)

If you've read my blog before, you have seen me decorate the Family Center of our church many, many times.  Click here or here or here for a refresher.
This time was a Christmas theme and I made sure I had a ton of volunteers to help me!

I typed up all the things we needed to do and taped the lists on the wall.  When the helpers arrived, they chose a task and got to work!  We crossed off the items as we finished.  It took us 3 hours to do everything.  Not bad!

Cedar branches from a tree in my yard and evergreen branches from another pastor's yard, added great texture to the center of these round tables and to the stage. 

The green fabric tablecloths belonged to the church. 
We had to have 'gift' centerpieces to go with our theme.  I ordered 50 small boxes online, and asked all the volunteers to arrive with a roll of wrapping paper, scissors and tape.  Everyone started assembling boxes and wrapping them. It looked like we had Santa's workshop happening!

Once the packages were wrapped and tied with thick, wired ribbon, we drilled four holes in the top of the boxes for the balloon sticks to be inserted.

Some of the volunteers spent 2 hours blowing up balloons! 
I ordered the balloons and balloons sticks online from here.  A hand pumper was very useful!
 I wanted a party atmosphere and it had to be kid friendly, so of course we needed balloons, and what better way to display them than sticking straight out of the packages? 

One friend, brought in a box of adorable Christmas ornaments to add to the greenery.  We also placed a few mini candy canes in the greenery and some gold, curly-wood fibers to add a little bling.

Drinking glasses were placed upside down on the tables.  During the meal, water pitchers and coffee carafes were added.  The head table had name tags for the special guests that were invited.

Did you notice these little coloring books and crayons on the tables?
I created these activity books for the kids.  The books were filled with word searches, crosswords and coloring pages that all related to the events that Pastor Mary had organized over the years.  I asked another friend to assemble them for me...since I apparently forgot how to use the special functions of a copy machine?! 


When we were finished decorating, the place definitely looked ready for a party!

A few weeks ahead of time, we asked all the Sunday School and Youth Group kids to make Pastor Mary an ornament.  The ornaments were gathered and used to decorate a Christmas tree.  The kids signed their names and wrote little notes on their ornaments.  Many of the ornaments were 'gifts' to go with our theme.  During the program, a child presented the tree and explained who made the ornaments.  We called it the Pastor Mary Tree.
See the quilt displayed?  Our church's Quilting Group sewed up a beautiful quilt for our pastor as well!  Gorgeous!


One of my friends made The 'Mary Tree' look amazing with lots of thick ribbon and a few balloons!  The wood M was painted by a few of the teen girls. LOVE!

The quilt in the above picture is a T-shirt quilt, using many of the Summer Day Camp T-shirts that our pastor had worn.

I gave all the church members 'homework' to write a letter to our Children's Pastor and locate pictures of Pastor Mary during the 19 years she served at our church.  The letters and pictures were printed out and assembled in a scrapbook.  Former pastors and church members were emailed the 'homework', inviting them to participate as well.  Many followed the theme by writing what a 'GIFT' Mary has been to their families. 
Money was collected to donate towards Pastor Mary's gifts. Gifts included baskets of her favorite things (coffee, chocolate, watercolors, etc.) and money to go towards an upcoming trip to Italy.

A young couple in our church created a slideshow and put it to music.  Pictures, video clips and even some quotes from the submitted letters were used.  Everyone enjoyed the video!

Another very talented friend of mine coordinated the retirement program.  She was able to get a list of our pastor's favorite songs, special items she loved and special people that she would like to be a part of the program.  Using all that information, a lovely program took place filled with kids singing, families telling stories and many gift baskets being presented.  The slideshow was also a big part of the program. 

I seated Pastor Mary front and center so she could enjoy the program.

To go with the 'GIFT' theme my AH (Awesome Husband) opened the program with a few gift jokes.
Here's my favorite one:

Why did the package get straight A's? 
Because it's 'gifted'!  (Ha ha. Yes, they were all a little corny like that.)

Our Children's 'Kids Players' performed a song for Pastor Mary.

The Children's Ministry Team wrote a poem and recited it during the program.

Many families thanked Pastor Mary and presented her with gift baskets.

Pastor Mary had a few things she wanted to share with everyone.

At the end of the program the kids gave Pastor Mary a hug and took a balloon from the centerpieces home with them.

A very successful retirement party...even though we didn't want her to retire!
A HUGE thank you to all who helped pull off that event!

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