McKenzie, longtime City Road pastor, to retire


The Rev. Charles McKenzie is shown at City Road United Methodist Church in Elizabeth City, Sunday. McKenzie will retire as the church's pastor next month after 35 years. His last sermon is scheduled for Sunday, June 24.


By Anna Goodwin McCarthy

Friday, May 11, 2018

Over the last 35 years, worshippers at City Road United Methodist Church have grown accustomed to the voice of the Rev. Charles McKenzie at Sunday morning services.

After next month, however, there’ll be someone else speaking to them from the pulpit.

McKenzie is planning to retire, and on June 24, he’ll give his final sermon at the church.

Last Sunday, the church’s congregation filled the pews to celebrate the years of service and dedication both McKenzie and his wife, Judy, have given the church. Afterward at a reception, Judy was presented a butterfly-shaped pendant and Charles was given a commemorative, clear leaded glass etched with both scripture and his years of service to the church.

“It was a great feeling,” McKenzie said afterward. “It was a celebration of both of us. We are a team.”

Sunday’s service included tributes to McKenzie by Warren White, a church member, and the Rev. Gil Wise, superintendent of the Beacon District of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, resident bishop of the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church, gave the morning message.

Ward described McKenzie’s service to City Road United Methodist as “gentle, but humble leadership.”

“Today we honor that work,” Ward said.

Originally from Laurinburg, McKenzie began his appointment at City Road United Methodist Church in December 1983.

Prior to coming to City Road, the Davidson College and Duke University School of Divinity graduate served appointments between 1975 and 1983 at First United Methodist Church in Elizabeth City, Mount Hermon United Methodist Church, Hall’s Creek United Methodist Church and Moyock United Methodist Church.

Most of McKenzie’s fondest memories at City Road are of the church’s members and their commitment to their faith.

“It is a very, very special church,” said McKenzie. “We have never witnessed division in the church.”

During his more than three decades at City Road, McKenzie has pastored to multiple generations of families. Whether it was a wedding, baptism or funeral, McKenzie was present for the most integral events in the lives of his congregation.

“It’s humbling to be involved with families in those intimate moments,” he said. “It’s just a great experience to see the growth in families.”

McKenzie said the church has been “loving and supporting” of his own family.

“Kelly and Kate grew up under the umbrella of the church,” said McKenzie, referring to his daughters, Kelly McKenzie Germino and Kate McKenzie-Veal. “We feel very blessed. They have made themselves into strong and dedicated women.”

Kelly and Kate, along with their husbands, Michael Germino and Andrew Veal Jr., and Kelly and Michael’s daughter, Abigail Germino, attended last Sunday’s service to honor their father.

McKenzie has been active in the Elizabeth City community as well as his church, serving as the former president and vice president of the Elizabeth City Area Ministerial Association. He also a former board member for Food Bank of the Albemarle and was the first president of the Northeastern High School Partners in Education group.

He presented two baccalaureate sermons at Northeastern for both his daughters’ graduating classes and the invocation at the Wake Forest University School of Law’s hooding ceremony for his daughter, Kate’s graduating class. He most recently performed his daughter, Kate's wedding ceremony to Andrew Veal Jr. on Isle of Palms, S.C. on April 28.

Judy, a national board-certified teacher, retired in 2007 after 34 years with the Elizabeth City Pasquotank Public Schools. She has fulfilled a number of roles at City Road, including that of Sunday school teacher in the children’s and youth departments, Vacation Bible School leader, adult choir member, president of the United Methodist Women, and United Methodist youth co-leader, according to the church.

“Teaching is just as much a calling as the ministry,” McKenzie said of his wife’s work. “We both gave all we could to our professions.”

McKenzie said he and Judy plan to live her childhood home in Elizabeth City once he retires from City Road.

“I’m looking forward to taking time to read,” said McKenzie. “We plan to take some trips eventually. We are going to take it one day at a time.”

As he prepares for his last sermon on June 24, McKenzie will reflect on his time at City Road United Methodist Church and its members’ “sense of love and concern and willingness to help others.”