DUPONT — After 39 1/2 years, Pastor Terry Porter is hanging up his stole.

Pastor Terry, who is the Senior Pastor at the Dupont Church of the Brethren, will officially retire on Aug. 31.

The cleric, who grew up on a farm in Melrose, initially dreamed of being a lawyer. One day, when he was 19 years old, he was driving a tractor and felt God calling him to go into the ministry.

The first Sunday at the Dupont church, there were 21 people present for worship services. Five of the congregation members were his family.

Pastor Terry began dating his wife, Sheila, when he was a senior in high school, and she was the “new” junior. On July 22, they celebrated their 47th anniversary. “God is so faithful and He has blessed our lives in innumerable ways,” Pastor Terry related.

The couple have three children: Lisa (Shane) Tegenkamp, who resides in Trenton, Ohio; Terry Nolan (Laura) Porter, of Continental; and Travis (Christy) Porter, of San Francisco, California. They also have four grandchildren: Kaylee (20), Tyler (16), Naomi (6) and Rosalie (4). The family was blessed to spend much time together this summer.

It is unusual for a pastor to remain in the same church for such a long period of time.

“Life is full of changes!” Porter explained. “But there are some things that never change…God’s Word. His truth will endure to all generations. God is and always will be true to His promised. He will never leave us and His strength is made perfect in our weaknesses.”

Porter believes God has blessed the church with programs that have flourished over the years. The Sunday School and Worship services have seen much growth. Vacation Bible School is always very exciting, as the Good News of God’s Word reaches many children. Wednesday night is “Family Night,” with classes for every age group, as well as a family meal October through April. Kingdom Kids Preschool is available to three to five-year-olds. They have group ministries, including a Men’s Fellowship Breakfast, a Ladies’ Fellowship, and a Cancer Warriors group. In addition, the church hosts a C.H.O.W. (Christians Helping Others Willfully) Food Pantry, to help families in need.

Pastor Terry’s favorite part of being a minister is preaching God’s Word.

“Jesus said, ‘If I be lifted up, I will call all men unto me.’ That has been and is my passion to live up the name of Jesus!” he declared.

Porter’s post-retirement plans include traveling and attending Cleveland Indians and Browns’ sporting events. He is receptive to other pursuits, though.

“I will have to see what doors God opens for me,” he said.