BEDFORD, N.Y. -- For the past 23 years, Terry Elsberry has seen people at their highest and lowest points.
Elsberry, who lives in Greenwich, recently retired as rector of St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in Bedford after serving for 23 years.
As rector, Elsberry oversaw a period of change for the church. It increased in parishioners and doubled the size of the parish house. It celebrated its bicentennial in 2010 and started a preschool and chamber music concert series.
"We've had a lot of fun," Elsberry said.
The church has been also been active in helping other Episcopal churches, including rebuilding churches in the Gulf Coast damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
Elsberry turned to the ministry after battling emotional problems when he was younger.
"People prayed for me and I was completely healed," Elsberry said. "God did a miracle in my life. I said, 'Okay, God, do what you want me to do.' This is what God wanted me to do. You never know where life will take you."
As rector, Elsberry has gotten to officiate weddings and baptize babies. Having been at St. Matthews for so long has allowed him to officiate weddings of people he knew as little kids.
"There have been so many people I've gotten to know," Elsberry said. "It's a great honor."
The flipside of the job has meant Elsberry also deals with people at their lowest point- people who are sick and dying and people dealing with family tragedies.
"It is hard," Elsberry said. "I hurt for them so much, no question about it. The pain is offset by the joy in doing baptisms and weddings. It balances out. I spend a lot of time praying so God will help me."
Elsberry encourages his congregation to realize how being Christian means getting to live a life of joy.
"God is always with us," Elsberry said. "You are never alone. God has a plan for every one of our lives. He created us, he knows what's best for us."
In retirement, Elsberry said he plans to help out at a church in Greenwich and do some writing.
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