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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Essex United’s Pastor Jim Hatt set to retire

by Adam Gault

An Essex United Church Pastor is set to retire this coming July, as the United Church of Canada plans to sell the Essex United Church building.

“The [United Church of Canada] has decided to sell the building. That in some ways makes me sad, but we still have to be realistic. There are a lot fewer people going to church, period,” explained outgoing Essex United Pastor, Jim Hatt. “We’ve just simply outgrown the need for this big of a building.”

Although the future of a physical space for the Essex United congregation is uncertain at this point in time, Pastor Hatt is hopeful the congregation will be able to continue in a new structure in the coming years.

“Essex United has made a contribution to the community forever, it’s always been an integral part of the community,” Hatt said. “We need to continue to tell our story here in this community, and to be part of this community.”

A member of the United Church since the age of 15, and Pastor at Essex United for the last several years, Hatt explained it was the United Church’s message of inclusion and acceptance that brought him to the denomination, and is a primary reason he wants to see the church continue to thrive.

“The United Church is one of the few churches where everybody is accepted that comes through the door,” Hatt said. “It doesn’t matter what colour you are, what race you are, what your sexuality is. We accept you, and we love you, and that’s what Christ told us we are supposed to do.”

Pastor Hatt will celebrate his 74th birthday this July 5, one day before his scheduled retirement, and cites his age and several health issues as deciding factors in his retirement decision.

“A year and a half ago, I had heart surgery and I had a stroke,” Hatt explained. “I don’t have the same energy that I had before. I think God’s telling me it’s time to stop and smell the roses.”

Although Hatt will be stepping down from his full-time duties with Essex United, he plans to continue his part-time work as the Chaplain at Windsor’s Downtown Mission, offering support and guidance for those in need.

“A couple days a week I’ll spend up at the Mission, talking to guys and women that need to talk about spiritual things,” Hatt said. “I still am not giving up Ministry totally, I’m just giving up this part of every Sunday I need to be responsible.”

This Sunday, June 30, will be Pastor Hatt’s last Sunday service. But, by no means will it be his last involvement with Essex United as he eagerly prepares for their annual Canada Day celebration.

On Monday, July 1, Essex United Churchw will host its 6th Annual Canada Day Community Picnic on the Church Grounds from 7 pm to 10 pm.

The annual extravaganza will offer BBQ, games, bouncy castles for the young ones, and fireworks as the sun goes down.

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