Trinity United prepares to say goodbye to longtime minister


It’s bittersweet, and that’s usually the case with endings and goodbyes.

But it’s also a matter of perspective. And for Derek Shelly, who has been the minister of Trinity United Church since 2003, he’s preparing for a new beginning. The 69-year-old has been slowly packing up his office in preparation for his retirement at the end of June. May 27th marks the day of his last Sunday service, however, he’ll stick around the church until the end of June at which time a supply minister will then take over.

This Friday marks the 40th anniversary since Shelly was ordained as a minister and that’s “quite a long time” of active ministry, considering that originally it was intended to be a second career. He started out as an elementary school teacher, a job he maintained for seven years in southwestern Ontario. And then he got the call. Trinity United Church was looking for a minister to be part of the leadership team and it just so happened that Shelly was looking for a church. He jumped at the opportunity and has been here ever since.

His parting is something that he is looking forward to. Shelly considers himself lucky to have spent a lifetime doing what he loves.

“I’m not going anywhere; I’ll still be living in the community and participating in the various groups that I work with,” he says.

Shelly has always believed it’s the community that makes the people and the community has come to love the bubbly and charismatic minister, who has been giving back to the town since he first arrived here. Hospice Huntsville has been an organization near and dear to his heart and he was a board member for many years. He was also a guiding force behind making the Algonquin Grace residential hospice a reality and he continues to be an on-call volunteer for families needing spiritual condolence. As a founding member of the Huntsville Community Theatre, Shelly says he will maintain an active role in the group.

“My enjoyment for ministry has encouraged my participation in the community, for hospice, Alzheimer’s, Community Living and the theatre company. We have a great theatre group within the congregation and I’ve been able to enjoy that.”

There’s no doubt that the church will deeply miss Shelly. He put his heart and soul into his Sunday services. May 27th is his last one.

Shelly has received unconditional support from the community upon announcing his retirement.

People understand everyone has to retire. I hope people will miss me. Huntsville is very much a part of who I am and where I want to spend time. Even though I’m retiring I will continue to be involved in the activities here.

What he is looking forward to is a bit of downtime and getting the chance to spend some quality time with his family. Retirement also means he’ll get to enjoy more kayaking and golf.

It is Shelly’s hope that as he steps down from his duty as minister, the people of Trinity United Church continue their spiritual growth and willingness to accept challenges

“That’s what’s made Trinity such an exciting place to be,” he says.

Derek Shelly isn’t going anywhere despite retiring. He will continue to stay active in the community he says is very much a part of who he is.

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  1. Derek is our inspiration at Improv every Tuesday and has kept me coming back. There has never been any pressure at improv to join any other group or the church. We are all allowed to be ourselves with his improv experience to guide us. I never thought I would be interested in Improv but he makes us all feel so comfortable and accepted that I can’t wait for the next Tuesday to arrive. We all hope he will count us as one of his groups in retirement.

  2. Nadya Tarasoff on

    A lovely write up about a very special person and a great minister. We will certainly miss his inspirational and thought provoking sermons but wish him well in this next chapter.

  3. Betty Fulton on

    Congratulations Derek! You have most definitely made Huntsville a better place, not only for the people of Trinity but for the whole community. Wonderful to hear you are remaining in Huntsville, it is a great town, one which we felt very much a part of, accepted and able to participate in many activities, sharing in your support of Algonquin Grace Hospice and Huntsville Community Theatre. ENJOY!!!

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