PUNTA GORDA − The Rev. Dr. Timothy Stewart is calling it a day after 30 years of service at the Burnt Store Presbyterian Church in Punta Gorda.
“It’s time,” said Stewart, 67. “It’s kind of cool that my last Sunday at the church is the last Sunday in May, because my first Sunday was the last Sunday in May exactly 30 years ago.”
“I have gained many ‘family’ members during those years,” Stewart said, “and have preached to many, have taught many, have visited many − in their good times and bad − have baptized many, have performed the weddings of many, have conducted a ‘Service of Witness to the Resurrection’ for many, and I love everyone I have known here.”
Stewart plans to pursue a lifelong dream of serving as chaplain with two sports car road racing series in the nation: the International Motorsports Association, promoter of the Daytona 24-hour race and the Sebring 12-hour race; and the Stephane Ratel Organisation, sanctioning body for the GT World Challenge America series.
Due to COVID-19, special events honoring Stewart’s service have been delayed until autumn when he will be invited to return to the church for a final worship and tribute celebration, according to a press release.
As far as the church’s future, Stewart is optimistic as the Burnt Store church community plans for a 100-unit assisted living/memory care facility to open on campus in 2021. Rev. Robert Canby (RC) Smith will serve as interim pastor upon Stewart’s retirement.