Pastor George and Terry Salnave step down from the pulpit

Pastor George and Terry Salnave, middle, pose for a photo with their family at a retreat luncheon on Sunday, October 23. The couple are retiring from the pulpit after 48 years, 37 of them at First Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Montezuma. . (JO Parker/Special to The Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican)

Pastor George Salnave, center, pauses for a photo with longtime friends and church members Don and Beverly Gray during Salnave’s retirement luncheon celebration on Sunday, October 23. (JO Parker/Special to The Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican)

Approximately 225 Montezuma residents, family and church members, and denominational representatives filled the pews of First Presbyterian Evangelical Church on Sunday, October 23, in honor of Dr. George Salnave and his wife, Terry.

The couple are retiring after 48 years of ministry in the church, including 37 years at Montezuma.

The service was filled with current and past members of the church sharing their thoughts on the impact the Salnaves have had on their lives and service to the community.

After the more than two hour service, those in attendance made their way to the Family Center for a lunch of sandwiches and three varieties of soup, along with more than an hour of fellowship and family photos. Lunch was planned and served by many women in the church.

“They did a wonderful job feeding and serving everyone there,” Pastor Salnave said. “I was surprised that my sister, Susan, and her husband, Leigh, came from North Carolina to help me celebrate.”

Also in attendance were Salnave’s three children and five grandchildren who took part in the celebration.

“It was a tremendous honor for me to have three representatives from Rivers and Lakes Presbytery (the church denomination) attend the service,” Pastor Salnave said. “I particularly appreciated the presence of five former youth pastors, some of them speaking. And the music was excellent.

The Salnaves came to Montezuma in 1986, through the efforts of the late Delores Lundy, who was then on the pastor search committee. She contacted her brother’s wife, who ran a Christian camp in California, where they saw many pastors, to see if they could suggest a candidate to serve and lead the church.

“They suggested me and Delores called me on September 17, 1985 to see if I might be interested in interviewing for this position,” Pastor Salnave noted. “The rest is history.”

At the time, Pastor Salnave was an associate pastor in Santa Rosa, California, a position he held for 11 years.

During his tenure, Pastor Salnave was instrumental in building the Family Center, a church and community center with a kitchen, gymnasium, fitness center and racquetball court. He also played a leading role in the creation of Montezuma’s pantry and clothes closet.

“The Clothing Closet has grown over time to become a valuable ministry in helping people provide appropriate seasonal clothing,” he said. “The Food Pantry is an excellent ministry for feeding the people of Poweshiek County. Each month, 12,000 to 14,000 pounds of food are distributed. Many people don’t know there is food storage and so our pantry has an even bigger role to play in our county.

He added that the Family Center has been the church’s ministry to the Montezuma community for more than 35 years.

“We appreciated the community support to help update it as it provides opportunities for recreation,” Pastor Salnave said. “I believe the church has and will continue to invite people into a saving relationship with Christ through its community service.”

Pastor Salnave also served as president and director of the Salvation Army’s 261 Bell Ringing Unit for several years. For every dollar donated to the Salvation Army, 90 cents stays in Poweshiek County.

Pastor Salnave has also served as president of the Montezuma Ministerial Association and pastor of the KUDV radio station. And for several years, he served with Linda Hamilton as emcee of Montezuma’s “Let Freedom Ring” celebration on July 4. Pastor George and Terry were the grand marshals of the 2022 parade.

“I have served or have currently served at the Rivers and Lakes Rectory as a chaplain, member of the ministerial committee, mission committee and moderator,” he said.

Additionally, Terry ran the church’s preschool for 18 years and also worked as a paraprofessional in the Montezuma Community Schools for 20 years. And she was also a partner in the ministry of her husband.

For the past few years, Pastor Salnave has also served as a volunteer coach for the Montezuma High School golf teams.

When questioned, Pastor Salnave said he preached about 1,700 sermons. He didn’t know how many weddings (or funerals) he attended during his time in Montezuma.

When asked what are one or two of his fondest memories from his time in Montezuma, Pastor Salnave replied, “Usually he takes care of a number of people who have dedicated their lives to Jesus. “.

“I was happy to have been instrumental in leading the church towards the Evangelical Presbyterian Church,” he said.

As for the retreat, Pastor George said he and Terry are looking forward to a lot of one-on-one time.

“I look forward to spending time with my children and grandchildren, traveling to visit friends from former ministries and playing golf,” Pastor Salnave said. “I also look forward to my role as chaplain at the Rivers and Lakes Rectory and to be involved on some level with the churches my children attend.”

Pastor Salnave and Terry will minister at the church until Christmas Day.

“I have enjoyed answering God’s call for me (and Terry) to be here at First Presbyterian Evangelical Church,” he said. “Montezuma was a great place to raise my kids.”

Barry F. Howard