Pastor Tom takes his leave after 38 years of leading services
SNOHOMISH — Spending your life doing something you love sounds like a dream for most people, and Pastor Tom Rohde of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church got to do just that.
For nearly 40 years, he spent his entire career serving at this church, but on Sunday, Sept. 26, he closed this chapter.
Tom Rohde was born into this life: His father, Emery Thomas Rohde, was a pastor in Vancouver, British Columbia, then Wenatchee, Seattle and lastly in Arlington.
Rohde was selected to be the pastor at Good Shepherd in 1983 because he is from the area, and that his father was a local pastor as well. The church was founded in 1916 at Swan’s Trail in Snohomish, and has had many pastors over the years, and Pastor Tom soon aimed to leave his impact.
Life leading a small church didn’t bother him; he preferred it. Being someone who enjoys making personal connections, he felt like working at a bigger church would remove the more personable and relatable aspects of the job. Leading worship and writing sermons have always been a favorite memory of his.
“I think my personality is such that I interact well with the congregation, so worship leadership has always been my favorite part of this job,” he said.
On a personal level, baptizing and confirming his two daughters was an emotional highlight of his. When asked if he would have done something differently during his time as a pastor, Rohde mentioned “I would have liked to be more aware of the relational dynamics that were going on in the congregation or in people’s lives, that maybe would have helped me be a better pastor.”
After attending Pacific Lutheran University, and then graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in comparative religions, Rohde eventually ended up attending Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, California and graduated in 1982. He soon became the Pastor at Good Shepherd in January 1983.
Originally Rohde wanted to become a teacher, basketball coach, or work in the psychology field while studying in college. “I don’t know if this is what I was supposed to be doing all along, maybe it just took me a while to realize it but I think I’ve done well at it,” Rohde said.
Retirement won’t be just relaxation for him, however. Rohde will continue filling in for other pastors on leave, and will continue to be involved in church life.
“For my next chapter in my life, I want to have a no-pressure job. Nothing to take home at the end of the day, not wondering if I will get a phone call from this person at the hospital I went to see.” He would like to spend more time visiting his daughter and son-in-law and spending time with his grandchildren.
Reflecting on his career in an interview before his last church service, “I think I’ve done a job here in a way that people appreciate and maybe has impacted people’s lives, more so than I’ll ever know,” he said. “I hope I’ve touched people’s lives in a positive, godly sort of way.”
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