Much-loved minister retires after extra 15 years' service

published on 13 Aug 2021

A much-loved local minister has retired ‘officially’ after 53 years, having postponed her initial retirement by 15 years to continue supporting the community in Whitby. 

Major Pat Charlesworth, who has been involved in The Salvation Army’s work in Whitby for the past 29 years, moved to the town in 1992 with her co-minister Norma Richardson. They restarted The Salvation Army’s work after its absence of 46 years. 

Major Pat said: “When we first came here to serve the community, we regularly travelled in from Scarborough, as we hadn’t a place to live, and would conduct outdoor church services, as we hadn’t a base. We eventually moved into a community hall where we would have our Sunday church services and then set it up for the council-run bingo the following morning!” 

Pat’s Christian faith inspired her work in the town, letting people know they are valued and making the outreach centre a place of welcome. She organised meals and activities for isolated older people and started a children’s club. Her faith has also been a source of strength in difficult times. 

In 1998, Pat’s co-minister, Norma, died and Pat continued their work solo for the next eight years. Pat also battled her own ill health, overcoming cancer twice during her ministry. She had been warned by her doctors that the things she loved to do – preaching and singing – would cause further irreparable damage to her vocal cords, which were affected during cancer treatment. 

Pat retired in 2006, but, she says: “I never really retired. I continued to help supporting new ministers posted to the outreach centre, filling in the gaps when we were without leaders and then taking on the leadership of the church once more in retirement. Although my doctors told me not to carry out public speaking or sing anymore, the Lord had plans for me!” 

Major Pat Charlesworth
It’s a privilege to have cared for so many young people and I’ve been blessed with numerous friendships with their parents through the years
Major Pat Charlesworth

Aged 68, despite feeling ‘too old to start a Sunday school’, Pat and members of the congregation started their first kids’ club to ensure local children had a safe space. 

She said: “I would come home on a Friday night shattered, but God always gave me the strength to carry on – we had so many children come to us and it was lovely. It’s a privilege to have cared for so many young people and I’ve been blessed with numerous friendships with their parents through the years.” 

As she concludes her 15 years of additional service, Major Pat is happy to say she will be staying in the town as ‘people here have welcomed me and it’s home’. 

She said: “Thank you for the generous way you’ve supported The Salvation Army practically and financially. But thank you especially for making me one of you and for all your support as Whitby has become my home. When people asked where I would retire – there was no question! This is home.” 

Although Major Pat’s ministry concludes and activities are now paused at Whitby outreach centre, The Salvation Army continues its work in its nearby Guisborough and Scarborough churches.

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