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Pastor at Christ Church retires after nine years

The Rev. Norman Pritchard served the Presbyterian Church for 50 years and made a mark in service and worship.

Norman Pritchard at his last service at Christ Church of Longboat Key.
Norman Pritchard at his last service at Christ Church of Longboat Key.
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In 2014, the Rev. Norman Pritchard was about to retire when he got a call: A church in Longboat Key needed a pastor. Would he perhaps be interested?

Since he said yes, he has spent his time bettering Christ Church of Longboat Key.

“Pastor Norman has strengthened the church and prepared it to move forward,” said Fredrick Fink, a congregant of the church.

Now, after nine years at Christ Church and over 50 years of service to the Presbyterian Church, Pritchard is retiring — for good, he said this time. But that doesn't mean he won't miss leading the congregation that has become part of his life for nearly a decade. 

“Christ church is a wonderful congregation,” said Pritchard. “The wonderful thing about it is many of them are now retirees, in many cases high powered and senior appointments in their vocational careers. While they've been working, they didn't have too much time to spare. Now, they see their retirement years as the time to give back. There's just a spirit of generosity, a willingness to be helpful, and a desire to see the church flourish. That makes it a delight to be here.”

Pritchard’s reputation speaks for itself by all the growth he has led the church throughout his service there. Finks said that Pritchard formed the Deacon ministry, Bible studies and small group studies. He also helped grow their mission support to 17 ministries with Sarasota and Manatee counties. 

Gillian, Normand and Joan Pritchard
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“Over these past nine years, Pastor Norman has led Christ Church in defining worship and imprinting the importance of keeping Christ at the center of all we do,” said Fink.

Originally from Scotland, Pritchard got his undergraduate degree at the University of Glasgow.  “I was at university at the time and I was heavily involved in the church program,” said Pritchard. “The more I got involved in that, the more it seemed to be a good fit.”

He got his doctorate degree at the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He served at different churches in Scotland, specifically in Edinburgh and West Kilbride. Pritchard was also a pastor in Melbourne, Australia for 16 years.

In 1996, Pritchard moved to Michigan to be a pastor at a church called Kirk in the Hills. He said that this was a big transition due to the differences in hemispheres and culture. He noted that people were more involved in their faith at the churches he served in the states. In 2014, Pritchard was about to retire when he was recommended to be the pastor at Christ Church. 

Norman and Joan Pritchard at his last service
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Pritchard said that his time at Christ Church was so enjoyable because of its amazing people. It was a breath of fresh air because the congregants are passionate about their faith and serving the community as well. 

Pritchard will be retiring in Lakewood Ranch where he said a number of the Christ Church congregants live. He is looking forward to resting but still being surrounded by friends and fellowship. New Rev. Julia Piermont will be taking over in December and visiting pastors will be filling in for the month of November. Pritchard is excited to be close by and keep in touch with the church but also wants to give Piermont the room to grow.

“She seems like a very able pastor,” said Pritchard. “She has been well recommended to the pastor nominating committee. And the more the committee has gotten to know her, the more excited they have become. I think Dr. Julia Piermont is going to hit the ground running in December, and she'll have the whole season in front of her. I see Christ Church going from strength to strength.”

Norman Pritchard at his retirement party
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A retirement party for Pritchard was held Oct. 24 at the Sarasota Yacht Club and his last service was Oct. 22. Pritchard said that the party was touching and humbling as it made him realize how much he was going to miss being the pastor at Christ Church. 

Pritchard said, “It has probably been the very best period of my ministry over 52 years.”



Petra Rivera

Petra Rivera is the Longboat community reporter. She holds a bachelor’s degree of journalism with an emphasis on reporting and writing from the University of Missouri. Previously, she was a food and drink writer for Vox magazine as well as a reporter for the Columbia Missourian.

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