After serving both God and the Fairbury community for over 30 years, Pastor Charles Schmidt of Grace Lutheran Church has retired. His wife, Brenda, who has served Grace Lutheran as Parish educator since 1999, has also retired.
Originally from rural Elgin, Schmidt came to Fairbury in 1987. Prior to that, he was the director of Christian education for five years for Emmanuel at Alliance and then served a rural congregation as a Pastor at Zion St. John at Wisner.
“So really, three congregations is all I’ve served,” Schmidt said.
The bulk of his career has been here is Fairbury and has been an important fixture in the community. According to Mrs. Schmidt, “In 30 years, he’s officiated over 300 funerals.”
In addition, a new educator has been hired to take over Mrs. Schmidts’ role. “Education is really our baby,” Mrs. Schmidt said. 
The church has already selected what is called an “Intentional Interim” pastor, Glenn Meyer, who will serve for 12 to 18 months while the search for a permanent pastor continues.
Among Schmidt’s most heartfelt memories is one recent Sunday morning in October, when the congregation prepared a celebration for his 30th anniversary and even took over one of the Church services for him.
The Schmidts are pleased that their legacy of work for the community will continue. “We have a pretty vibrant jail ministry,” Schmidt said. “The hospital has always been really helpful and appreciative of what you do when you come in an emergency, when you stand with a family or whatever.”
The church also has a radio ministry and many other services.
Post retirement, the Schmidts decided to movie to Lincoln. They purchased a home about six months ago and have been slowly transferring their belongings to the new house. In fact, the final truckload was delivered on Wednesday, June 13 and the Pastor’s last day was Sunday, June 17.
“Our families are there,” Schmidt explained. “Our children and grandchildren all live in Lincoln.” 
The Schmidts have three children and nine grandchildren.
In addition to spending more time with family, the Schmidts also plan to do some more traveling. They have already visited 25 countries throughout their travels, mostly in the U.S. and Europe.
“I have a brother who lives in Andorra, which is between Spain and Frances,” Mrs. Schmidt said. Andorra is the sixth smallest country in Europe. They will be spending three weeks in the tiny European nation.
“Then we are going to Wisconsin the end of July,” Schmidt added. “For a family vacation.”
Schmidt said, “I would really like to thank the community for the opportunities we have had and the openness of the various institutions of the community to having religious services and spiritual leadership.”