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Concert helps bid bon voyage to beloved pastor and his wife in Langley
A fond and musical farewell is planned for Pastor David Vergin and his wife Mary Vergin this weekend at Langley United Methodist Church.
The couple plan to retire — he as pastor, she from the staff — and choral director Betsy Arand said music is the perfect way to say goodbye to them both.
“I had the idea for this concert as a fun way to end the year with gospel music; a spiritually fun concert. But then when Pastor Vergin announced his retirement,
I thought it would be a great way to honor him,” Arand said.
Jennifer Morris is the chairwoman of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee.
“David has a deep love for music and is a talented musician himself, so it seemed appropriate that we would incorporate music as one of the ways we honor David’s service to the church and the South Whidbey community,” Morris said.
Pastor Vergin and his wife have had a lasting effect on the congregation since they arrived in 1998.
Harriet O’Neal is the council chairwoman at the church and was there to welcome them.
“David and Mary arrived 13 years ago to a conflicted church congregation,” O’Neal said.
There was a period of years, she said, during which the church had gone through several pastors, the pews weren’t often full, programs felt lackluster and a general sense of exhaustion was felt among the lay leaders.
“David with his quiet, thoughtful way and Mary with her cheerful enthusiasm, have led us back to a point where we have energetic, optimistic leaders, great programs, and lots of new ideas,” O’Neal said.
“We have full pews and had 15 youth join the church last Sunday.”
In addition to the couple’s tireless efforts with various community organizations, including work for affordable housing and social justice issues, O’Neal said Pastor Vergin has encouraged his flock to follow their passions in continually striving for a better community and a better world both in and out of the church.
“It was under his leadership that Langley UMC formally became a Reconciling Congregation, meaning that we formally stated that we welcome everyone into our congregation, including all sexual minorities,” O’Neal said.
She also described the Vergins as having a particular love for Japan, where David Vergin speaks the language, and where the couple took a sabbatical several years ago spending some months in Kyoto.
“They became active in a small church there and have maintained that relationship, supporting that congregation with their experience and talents,” O’Neal said.
“They hope to return during their retirement and we hope they are able to do so frequently.”
Arand, Morris and O’Neal all mentioned Vergin’s passion for music and how it has been integral to his pastorship. An accomplished musician with a degree in music, Vergin plays the guitar every Sunday, sometimes arranges music for the choirs and often lends his voice as a cantor with the choir.
“We will miss David leading us on Sunday on his guitar or with drums in upbeat, easily sung songs and his admonition to put the papers with the words down and sing out with heart; hands clapping, feet tapping,” O’Neal said.
Arand said it seemed fitting to invite the entire community, even those who don’t belong to the church.
“This will be a good opportunity for those who know him well to say goodbye, too. I just want it to be lots of fun,” she added.
“We hope that those who have worked with David and Mary over the years will take this opportunity to offer their best wishes while enjoying a spring concert and some strawberry shortcake.”
O’Neal summed up the overall effect that the Vergins’ presence has had on the congregation’s approach to worship.
“Our church loves music and we sing when we are happy, and we sing when we are down,” O’Neal said.
The concert will be at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22 in the church sanctuary with a strawberry shortcake reception to follow in Fellowship Hall.
Vergin’s final service at Langley United Methodist Church will be Sunday, June 5. Vergin and his wife will move to Bellingham.
The new pastor, Rev. May Boyd, will make her first Sunday appearance at church services on July 10.