Griffis retiring from pulpit

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 2, 1999

Deborah Corrao / L’Observateur / June 2, 1999

“When my wife retires, we’ll probably have to build another house,” says Terrell Griffis, retiring vicar at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church inLaPlace, as he packs hundreds of books he’s collected through his 30 years in the ministry.

On the last Sunday in May, Griffis, 66, administered his last eucharist to the small congregation he has served at St. Timothy’s for the past 12years. He has also said goodbye to the All Saints Episcopal Church inPonchatoula that he pastored.

Griffis was a young husband and father of two children when he decided to give up a career as an accountant to attend seminary.

“I knew there was something missing in my life,” he says. “I had been anactive layman in the church, and I decided it was something I had to do.”Griffis says his wife Marcia was less than excited about the idea.

“At first she said ‘no way,'” he says, laughing. “We thought about it for acouple of years before we finally decided to do it.”In 1970 Griffis graduated from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

Originally, he attended to become a minister in the Methodist church but a couple of years into seminary he embraced the Episcopal philosophy.

There were no openings for Episcopal ministers in the diocese when he graduated, so he served four years as a Methodist minister before pastorship became available in the Episcopal church.

In the dozen years he’s served the LaPlace area, he says, his church has held its own due, in part, to a core group of about 75 faithful members.

Though he enjoys his congregation, Griffis says there’s an unwritten rule in the Episcopal church that a retired minister not be active in the congregation he has left for at least a year out of respect for the person who will replace him in the pulpit.

Instead, in retirement, Griffis says he will continue working within the diocese, serving as pulpit supply for churches whose pastors are on vacation or are temporarily without leadership. He is also active inKairos, an interdenominational prison ministry group, and a renewal ministry for those in the leadership of the church.

It could take three months or more to find a replacement for Griffis at St.

Timothy’s. Because it is a mission church, dependent on the diocese forsome financial support, it is possible but unlikely that a new priest could be appointed by the bishop.

A call committee, using input from the bishop, the national office and the congregation of St. Timothy’s, will soon be looking at candidates, one ofwhom will be approved by the vestry, the administrative board of the church.

For now, Griffis and his wife Marcia, a teacher in St. Charles Parish whosings with the church choir at St. Timothy’s, plan to stay in the LaPlacearea at least until his wife is able to retire in a few years.

“Somebody needs to work and put food on the table,” he quips.

The couple enjoys traveling, Griffis says, and they are able to travel during the summer months when his wife is off work.

Terrell and Marcia Griffis have two grown children, a son and daughter who both live in Baton Rouge.

Griffis says he would like to spend more time hunting and fishing with his son, a towboat pilot.

“I love to fish and hunt,” he says. “I haven’t had much time to do itbecause of my work, but I’m looking forward to it.” As Griffis embarks upon a new life, the longtime man of the cloth says he has no regrets.

“Everyone has their ups and downs,” he says. “But I’ve met a lot ofwonderful people. I wouldn’t do anything else.”

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