MOREHEAD CITY — As a teenager, the Rev. Tim Havlicek was determined to “never” become a pastor. That all changed through a series of encounters working with youth.
Now, after 40 years serving as pastor of First Presbyterian churches, the popular Carteret County clergyman will preach his last sermon at 11 a.m. Sunday as leader of First Presbyterian Church in Morehead City.
As well as being able to attend in person, those wanting to hear him preach his final sermon can do so via the church’s Facebook page. The congregation will present a luncheon in his honor following the service.
Rev. Havlicek, affectionately known as Pastor Tim, has shepherded the flock at First Presbyterian Church for 24 years. Prior to coming to Morehead City, he served as pastor of First Presbyterian churches in Pensacola, Fla., and Annapolis, Md.
While he has faithfully cared for members of all of his churches over the years, Rev. Havlicek, 66, said Thursday he has a special place in his heart for his Carteret County congregation and community.
“To serve this church and community has been my delight,” he said. “The church has been so loving, supportive and caring. The community has been a blessing to our family. The school system has been so good to my children. When we came here, we said we wanted a place with a small town feel where people cared for each other. That is Carteret County.”
As well as exemplifying a personal and church motto of “Being the hands and feet of Jesus” within the church, Rev. Havlicek is known for those qualities throughout the community.
He helped start the Carteret Long Term Recovery Alliance, a nonprofit created following Hurricane Florence to help repair or replace the thousands of homes destroyed or damaged during the Category 1 storm that flooded eastern North Carolina in September 2018.
He also helped create what is now Family Promise of Carteret County, which houses homeless families. In addition, he has served with Hope Mission of Carteret County, which provides shelter to the homeless, offers financial assistance and food to the needy and has recovery homes and services for those struggling with addictions.
When he retires, Rev. Havlicek said he plans to become more active in the community, finding new avenues of service.
“I want to be more engaged in various aspects of the community,” he said. “I will probably serve as a supply pastor or interim pastor when churches need me, as well.”
He also plans to enjoy his favorite hobbies of golf and beekeeping.
“Beekeeping is a new passion of mine,” he said. “It’s fun and I love honey.”
A second-generation pastor, Rev. Havlicek said when he was young he originally decided against becoming involved in full time ministry. Instead, he intended to become a counselor. He attended Stetson University in central Florida, where he received a degree in psychology in 1977. While attending college he got involved with youth work in Panama City, Fla.
“It was during that time that I realized all church work is spiritual counseling,” he said.
After graduating college, he worked in real estate for two years while still involved in youth work at his local church. He said it was during that time that the call of God began tugging at his heart.
While he didn’t commit to becoming a pastor, he decided to enter pastoral counseling and attended Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. He said his vocation became clear during his seminary internship at Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Ala.
“That’s where God actually called me to parish ministry within the church setting,” he said.
His first pastorate was at First Presbyterian Church in Pensacola from 1983 to 1990. He then transferred to First Presbyterian Church in Annapolis, Md., where he served from 1990 until 1997.
During his time in Maryland, he started searching for a new church and saw an opening at First Presbyterian Church in Morehead City. However, when he contacted the church, he was told the position had been filled. Then, a few months later the church contacted him again.
“They called me back and said the position was mine if I wanted it. By then I had gotten involved in other endeavors and told them I wasn’t interested,” he said. “But the church’s search committee contacted me again and asked me if I was sure. I jokingly told them that if they would bring me a lemon meringue pie, I would take the position.”
The search committee traveled to Maryland to interview Rev. Havlicek, and presented him with a lemon meringue pie.
“I knew then they would understand my sense of humor, so I accepted the position,” he said.
He preached his first sermon at the church the first Sunday of January 1998.
While he’s known for his sense of humor, Rev. Havlicek has faced his share of challenges as well, including a bout with prostate cancer. Thankfully, his surgery was a success and he’s had no problems.
He’s also faced leading his congregation through the many church repairs needed following Hurricane Florence, then came the COVID-19 pandemic with its many challenges.
Through the good and the bad, Rev. Havlicek said he has no regrets about his decision to become a pastor.
“I’ve never thought of ministry as a sacrifice, but it’s the joy of serving the Lord,” he said. “I couldn’t think of doing anything else.”
As for the greatest reward of his career, Rev. Havlicek said it’s the fact that he and his wife Sue still have a strong marriage after 39 years. The couple has two daughters, Kimberlyn Edmondson, 32, of Bentonville, Ark., who is a finance officer for First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville, and Sarah, 30, who lives at home and works at Moore’s Barbecue in Morehead City and attends the compensatory education program at Carteret Community College.
While church staff members plan to celebrate their pastor’s career during the Sunday worship service, they said it will be difficult to let him go.
“He cares about the people, but he also cares deeply about this community,” Lou Johnson, who oversees family ministries at the church, said. “He’s been so involved in this community and he’s been a good shepherd to this flock.”
Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.