The Last Sermon

Karen Chakoian retires as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Granville after 23 years. Her spiritual path is still unfolding.

Karen Chakoian's last service, at First Presbyterian Church in Granville on January 28, 2024, was an emotional event for members and friends of the church.

For 23 years she has practiced a grounded and accessible spirituality which has made her a beloved figure in this small town. I check in with her following the weekend of her farewell party and her last service, as she completes the final tasks of packing up her office.

I find someone in transition from one stage of life to the next, but still applying all her spiritual gifts.

A difficult moment: The congregation dissolves its pastoral call to Karen.

A difficult moment: The congregation dissolves its pastoral call to Karen.

"This is the praying over the water. For me what that means is inviting the spirit to be present. And understanding it's not a mechanical kind of I-do-this-so-something-happens. It's not magic. It's the presence of the spirit over the water, in the water, so that it becomes a sacred moment."

Below: Sacrament of Baptism for Jack Fallon

"So taking off that stole and laying it down was setting down all their lives at once. And trusting that I was putting it on the table, where God is present. I'm not abandoning them. I'm not forgetting them. But this is no longer my work."

Below: Dissolution of Pastoral Call

Music for the audio story:

"This is Ohio Theme with Piano," Matt Jackfert.

"I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say," Robin Brown, Steve Bain, Jack Hire.

"All Creatures of Our God and King," Jim Van Reeth, Steve Bain, and Jack Hire.