Anna Maria church honors retiring reverend

HERALD STAFF REPORTFebruary 15, 2014 

ANNA MARIA -- The Rev. Gary Batey and his wife, Karen, were honored by Roser Memorial Community Church during a Feb. 8 retirement party after 14 years of commitment to the church.

Nearly 200 members and friends of the church enjoyed a buffet meal catered by Sand Bar restaurant while watching a video presentation depicting the Bateys working within the community.

Batey's involvement in the community resulted in Roser Church being recognized with the "Citizen of the Year Award" by the city of Anna Maria in 2010, organizers said.

Batey encouraged many church programs, including the annual Thanksgiving day meal prepared for about 200 people each year, the Bethlehem Walk and two Christmas Eve services.

Other pursuits initiated by Batey include mission trips to hurricane-devastated areas, the Family Promise program and work with Habitat for Humanity.

Batey was a teacher in the Stephen Minister program in addition to leading two Bible study groups. Through his tenure, the church also welcomed the meetings of the Garden Club, Alcoholics Anonymous and served as a polling place.

Following dinner, a second show featured photos of the Bateys upon his graduation from seminary and at nine churches he served in Ohio before coming to Roser in 2000. There were also shots from his first service at Roser through his last.

A skit by Jill and Mark Morris followed as they portrayed a search committee looking to find a replacement minister for Batey.

The Rev. Bruce Merton, president of the International Council of Community Churches, and Cornelia Zanetti, president of All Island Denominations, made comments before the Bateys were presented with a book of memories and a check.

Organizers said special thanks go to:

• Anna Maria Island Community Center Director Dawn Stiles, assistant Director Scott Dell and the Board of Directors for use of the center and help from staff members;

• Anna Maria Garden Club for creating and donating floral centerpieces;

• Sandbar Restaurant for catering; and

• Key Club volunteers of Manatee High School for parking help.

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