In the children's classic "The Wizard of Oz," the wizard tells the tin woodsman that the true measure of a man's heart is not how much he loves, but how much he is loved by others.
If that's true, then the Rev. Dr. Calvin Edmonds must have a very big heart, indeed.
Edmonds, pastor of the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Altoona, is retiring after 15 years of service to the church and community.
(Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich)
The Rev. Dr. Calvin Edmonds and his wife, Verna, will serve Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church for the final time Sunday.
"Jan. 1, 2012, will be my last Sunday," he said.
Edmonds, who lives in Harrisburg but travels to Altoona to pastor, said he plans to remain active in some sort of ministry after retiring, particularly in the area of teaching.
"I'll be teaching younger ministers; people coming into the ministry," he said.
Edmonds, who is the longest tenured pastor in Mount Zion's history, will be given the title of pastor emeritus at the church.
Reflecting on his years there, he said, "The time went so fast. I'm already missing them. I'm going to miss them dearly."
He said the hopes that the church members continue to move forward and upward.
Alice Lawrence, a trustee at Mount Zion, said the news of Edmond's plans "was devastating to me. He's been a friend," she said.
Lawrence said Edmonds' ministry extended well beyond the four walls of the church.
One of the ways he shows concern for her family is by visiting her grandson, who is a paraplegic.
"He goes to visit him all the time. He gave him a lot of hope and strength," she said. "That's the kind of person he is. He's well liked in the community."
Carla Beckton, a member of the church for more 17 years, said Edmonds and his wife, Verna, are "love incorporated. When you meet them, you really experience who they are."
Beckton said news of Edmonds' retirement plans was met with mixed emotions.
"We were distraught at the thought of him not being there," she said.
"But the other part is we recognize how hard he has worked, both of them, and how much they have put into the ministry," she said.
"We realize they need their time and to celebrate their retirement. I know they're not leaving the ministry. They'll probably be just as busy in their retirement."
Beckton's husband, James, has been in the church since 1999, when he moved into the area from Georgia. Chairman of the deacon board, James Beckton called Edmonds and his wife mentors.
"He was a very good pastor and a very good teacher," James Beckton said. "We're going to miss him when he's gone."
Edmonds, whose community involvement included the Altoona Area Christian Coalition and the Sixth Ward Ministries, among others, praised his congregation. "They've grown in their Christianity, knowledge and understanding of Scripture," he said.
Although he will miss pastoring, Edmonds remained practical. "Pastors need to know when their season is over," he said. "My season is completed. I did what I was sent to do."