Tears of joy glimmered in the eyes of Greencastle pastor Paul Bowen this week as he reflected on 30 years of service at First Baptist Church.
This Sunday he will step down from the senior pastor's position and hand the torch to a new man, Clyde McCammack who will start preaching Oct. 22.
The congregation has planned a community open house for Bowen from 2-5 p.m. Sunday at the church.
Bowen's service to the community has included the United Way, Red Cross, Big Walnut Sports Park, Putnam County Hospital Chaplaincy Department and the Central Indiana Regional Blood Center.
"Greencastle is a beautiful place to raise your children," Bowen said. "The community has been wonderful to me and my family and has reached out and accepted us."
Bowen has been married to his wife Jean for 43 years. The couple raised two children and now have two grandchildren. Bowen smiled as said he has two more grandchildren on the way.
Although he will no longer deliver the words of the Bible to his congregation on a regular basis, Bowen says he will not stop serving God in his daily life.
"We are looking for God to reveal the next step in our journey," Bowen said.
Approaching 70 years of age, Bowen said he believes it would be foolish to stop walking with God and more importantly, trusting him for his daily needs.
Born in Australia, Bowen grew up as the son of missionary parents who ministered to the aborigine people of Queensland.
"My first house was a bark hut," Bowen recalled. "I like to tell people that we actually had running water -- we just ran to the pond to get it."
Life in the Australian bush was difficult at best. As a missionary family, the Bowens were not always sure where they would get their next meal.
But Bowen said he remembers his parents praying when times were hard and that someone in the village would always seem to come through at just the right time.
"Day by day, God provided our needs," Bowen said.
This week he recalled that during the most difficult times for his family, his mother, who is still living at age 92, was faithful to give money to the church.
"It's like God just takes what we have and expands it beyond anything we could ever believe or imagine," he said.
Bowen believes the same is true today.
"The congregation here has loved my family and has supported me as pastor," Bowen said. "First Baptist has become our family."
Recalling when his father died, Bowen said members of First Baptist pulled together to provide the money for him to travel to Australia to be with his mother.
He also credits his church of about 200 regular attenders for making his retirement possible.
"God knows our needs and has met them in amazing ways," he said.
Bowen said the church as a whole has been blessed by God throughout the years.
He said he remembers when IBM closed its Greencastle plant and a number of families who attended the church moved away. Eventually, new families moved in and filled some of the gaps.
Then there was the time in the early 1990's when leaders of the American Baptist Convention, of which First Baptist is a member, were quarreling over doctrinal matters. Bowen said some people argued, at the time, that Greencastle should pull its membership while others wanted to stay.
"We've had our ups and downs," Bowen admitted.
As he looks to the next 30 years, Bowen said he is optimistic about the future of the church under new leadership.
"I see First Baptist continuing to be a place where people can come and grow in their relationship with God," he said. "The man we have chosen to come in has the gifts from God to be able to make that come to pass."
Liked by many people in the community, including those outside the church, Bowen said he has always tried to make people feel like they're important not only to him, but to God.
"My feeling is that everyone is important," he said. "And I've tried to make people feel that way."