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Methodist pastor hangs up her robes

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After a decade of doing God's work in the Snoqualmie Valley, the Rev. Mary Brown of the

Snoqualmie United Methodist Church preached her last sermon on Sunday.

The 65-year-old North Bend resident known affectionately as

"Pastor Mary" to her congregation said

she looks forward to joining her husband William in retirement.

"This is the start of the new millennium and it's time for someone

else to bring their gifts and graces to the congregation," she said, adding

that the Rev. Beryl Ingram will begin leading the 184-member

congregation next week.

Brown began her pastoral career at the Snoqualmie Church exactly

10 years ago. She said that as a little girl she always felt the calling to go

into ministry.

"When I was growing up, I didn't see any women role models [as

pastors]," she said. "Then when I was attending a United Methodist Church

in Seattle, there was a woman pastor."

"So when my daughter graduated from high school I said it's now

or never," Brown recalled.

She decided to attend the Claremont School of Theology

in Southern California. Upon graduation, she was immediately placed at the

then 100-year-old church.

"It was all up to God and it was a good match," Brown said.

Church secretary Rose Whitney agrees Brown's presence at the

church was a match made in heaven.

"She's very active and very caring," said the five-year church

member. "She listens to you and you can tell her just about anything."

"It'll be like I'm missing a friend," Whitney added.

Throughout Brown's service in the Valley she has always stressed

the importance of the members' using their God-given gifts to benefit

the church and community.

In fact, Brown dedicated her last sermon to reinforce the idea that

each person is equipped with a special talent that should be used to touch

the lives of others. To seal the lesson, members were given a polished

stone with the letter "G" on it, which

stood for "God's Gift."

"I like to see people grow in their walk in Christ and seeing them

use their gifts whether it's for listening or for hospitality," she said. "We

never know what the gifts of the spirit will do."

Some of the church's outreach ministries include helping with

the Mount Si Helping Hands food bank in North Bend and the

establishment of the Good Neighbor Child Care Center that is housed in the education

wing of the church. Over the years Brown also witnessed the continual

improvements to the church building, the development of social and

spiritual groups and the multiple work parties organized by the members themselves.

"It's been a time of challenges and crisis, joys and sorrows. But the

idea of being sustained by God's grace is very much with me," Brown said.

And as the pastor wraps up her last week at the church, she will

always fondly recall the lives that she has touched in Snoqualmie and the

people that have become her friends.

"I will miss singing with the choir on Sunday mornings and the

Wednesday night practices," she said. "I

will miss the people and being in worship together."

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