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Farewell to Peter and Susan Marty

News | June 6, 2024

As Peter and Susan’s time at St. Paul comes to a close this month, they sat down to reflect on their past 28 years and look forward to what’s penciled into the next chapter of their lives.

The phone rang a little after 2 p.m. on a January Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. Peter and Susan knew it must be from someone out of town. Who on earth would interrupt the Kansas City Chiefs conference championship game?

Peter answered the call.

“Peter. My name is Manny Fritz. I’m the call committee chair from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa.”

That’s where it all started. Not long after, on Sunday, April 28, 1996, the congregation voted to call Pastor Peter W. Marty as the next senior pastor of St. Paul.

Peter responded with a yes.

Thus began the journey of the Marty family to Davenport and St. Paul. Peter, Susan, Jacob, 7, and Rachel, 5, packed their bags and made the five-and-a-half-hour drive to their new home.
It’s been 1,500 Sundays since Peter first answered the call from St. Paul. During those years, he’s answered many types of calls. Calls in times of crisis, joy, fear, and celebration. He’s walked alongside St. Paul people on their brightest days and during their darkest nights. And Susan was right beside him, making it all possible.

What made you both say yes to coming to St. Paul?  
Peter: St. Paul was full of opportunity. The church was coming out of a difficult period, but blessed with a significant history and a promising future. There were obvious struggles, yet strong opportunities for real growth. The congregation was looking for someone to take them to the next level. Over the years, as a community, we’ve formed something special at St. Paul.

Susan: We fell in love with our call committee. They were great people. This was before cell phones or Zoom, so they drove down to Kansas City. They were having fun, they were joking, and they were warm. We thought if St. Paul is anything like this group of people, we can see a future.

What were those early days at St. Paul like? 
Peter: I was grateful right away for the warmth of the people at St. Paul. I came with the excitement of knowing I had to trust my life to these people and receive the same in return, or else we wouldn’t get anything done. I was young. I was 37. I thought: I’ve got to figure out very quickly how to respect the wisdom of people who are older and wiser than me and not be intimidated by them. That became the game plan.

I still have the notes from what I shared at my first staff meeting. It was about what kind of church we could be; a vision for setting up the congregation for joy, depth, and excitement. We wanted to make St. Paul a welcoming place, so we quickly developed a vision for a space on the main level. We began the project of constructing a hospitable congregation from the inside out.

Susan: St. Paul is in a vibrant central city spot. Whoever chose this lot in 1947, our thanks to them. Generations have helped build this place. This vision of place told me right away – this church can make a difference.

If you had a conversation with yourselves 28 years ago, what advice would you give them for the years ahead?
Peter:
I’d lead in the exact same way. Every day was a new adventure. Every person is full of promise. You swallow your failures. You learn from them. You take more interest in the future than in the past. You get excited when people work together. I wish I had the wisdom then that I do now, because the day you figure everything out is pretty close to the day you retire.

The journey we took together, the decisions we made, we kept pressing for what St. Paul could be and believing the best years were yet to come. There are always things we could do differently, but the most important piece to learn is how to think congregationally. A few of the decisions we’ve made over the years weren’t necessarily my first choice, but I know they were best for the congregation. That’s imperative.

Ministry is a great exercise in giving your life away and getting tenfold in return. You give a lot, but you get so much more back. I gave it my all.

Susan: This church and faith are part of our lives and part of who we are. There isn’t any role I ever felt I had to fill or had to play. I would say to others: Be your most authentic self in how you get involved. I made it a priority to be involved in things as a normal church member, not as a pastor’s wife. That would be role-playing, which is not me.
We don’t just go to church to get. We go to give and to be part of a community. I figured out early on that Peter would be called away and occupied by different things in the church for great stretches of time.

What’s next?
Susan: We always knew that when our time was over at St. Paul, we would need to leave. There needs to be space and a place for the next chapter of life and ministry here; so we’re getting out of the way.

Peter: We’re going to live close to our kids and grandkids. We won’t set the alarm clock, and I anticipate house projects that I have no time for now. I have other writing and speaking ventures in the future. The days will be full, but we’ll spend the time together.

Susan: We’ll volunteer. Who knows what we’ll be doing, but we’ll be doing it together. And we’re going to explore the world from a one-year-old’s perspective.

Peter: I’m one piece of a long puzzle of history here and I’m thrilled with what will happen next at St. Paul. I’m the eighth senior pastor in 142 years. St. Paul is where it is because we’re all standing on the shoulders of others before us. I hope what I’ve done provides some shoulder strength for the next chapter. I did what I could, and I trust the next St. Paul era to the spectacular leaders that we have.

St. Paul is a huge part of our lives and I’m grateful for the ways this church has shaped us, formed our ideas of faith, and affected us in deep ways. It’s humbling to realize how much of ourselves is built from others. That’s the joy of ministry. Every day is a new and different encounter.

 

Peter’s final weekend of preaching will be June 8 & 9. A reception in the gathering area will follow each worship service. ​An ingathering of cards with well wishes and gratitude for Peter and Susan is invited. Drop your greeting card (to their attention) in a basket that weekend or mail your greeting to church (in their name), in the coming month.

If you wish to make a financial contribution to a congregational gift, please make checks out to St. Paul Lutheran Church and note Peter and Susan in the memo line. Financial contributions should be placed in the locked box in the front office directly across from the receptionist’s desk.

9 Comments on “Farewell to Peter and Susan Marty”

  • Jennifer Cobb

    June 20, 2024 at 1:59 pm

    Pastor Marty,
    Our family is going to miss your sermons and the way you lead the congregation with such inspiration and joy. But, we are going to miss you as a person more. You have an unbelievable gift of making everyone around you feel seen and heard and welcome in the church. Best wishes on your move!

  • Susan Iossi

    June 13, 2024 at 8:30 pm

    We were so thankful to be back for your final sermon at St Paul. That sermon was epic! Thank you for all you both gave to this congregation. We have felt so blessed to be a part of your tremendous leadership, and we cherish the love and friendship you shared. We will continue to pray for you both as you enter this new chapter in your lives, and we know the importance of being closer to family. Thank you for the wonderful memories! We will keep in touch. We love you both!

  • Ronda Bird

    June 13, 2024 at 7:28 pm

    Eldon and I were so happy we could be at St. Paul these past two Sundays. It was a joy to sit in the sanctuary, among dear friends, hearing your wonderful message, Peter! And did you know that the April 28th date when you were called to St. Paul was the date of my mom’s birthday? No wonder you two had such a wonderful connection over the years. God speed! Love you both!

  • Deborah Lamp

    June 6, 2024 at 4:03 pm

    What a joy to know Peter and Susan, you have been there for us when the boys and grand boys were growing up. You were there for us at the time of the fire and losing Glen. I feel like we are neighbors and best friends. Thank you for the memories. Love you both!

  • Marv Taylor

    June 6, 2024 at 3:02 pm

    I appreciate all of the memories from RB times, dinner at M. Marty’s , and communications these past years. God bless you and the family
    Marv Taylor

    • Joel Marty

      June 10, 2024 at 8:57 am

      Coach,
      Maybe the wrong venue here, but we have been trying to find you.
      –jm

  • Barbrie Densto

    June 6, 2024 at 2:07 pm

    Pastor Marty was the first pastor I ever felt like I could talk to. He was wonderful to me during my hospital stays. I felt Pastor Marty always had an open ear to listen to anyone about anything. You will be truly missed! Love you both! Good luck with your future endeavors!

  • Rolla and Marta Lucas

    June 6, 2024 at 2:02 pm

    No “Good-byes” just “Hellos” to a”Fantastic Pastor and his wife!!! Peter and Susan you have been “Instrumental” in building an outstanding congregation with so many “in’s and outs”!!! Rolla and I will truly miss your loving and caring nature. Let us not forget your “comedy and humor”!!! You took Rolla and I in when we most needed your help after our Mother died.
    Thank you, good luck, “Love and Blessings” to you both ~ Rolla and Marta

  • Jan Aplin

    June 6, 2024 at 1:51 pm

    What a joy it was to worship and serve with Peter and Susan. And what a privilege it was to be a member of the St. Paul staff. We will be forever grateful for all you have done to make St. Paul a vibrant, welcoming and relevant church in so many lives. We love you both!

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