TYRONE — Amid the bustle of Holy Week services and preparing to officiate forhis daughter's wedding, the Rev. Thomas L. Golliday had one more thing to think about the past few weeks.
He had to set aside time to write his Easter Sunday sermon, his last after 23 1/2 years at Emmanuel (Baust) United Church of Christ.
"I'm disconnecting my life and starting all over again," the graduate of Lancaster (Pa.) Theological Seminary said.
After pastoringthis village church, located between Westminster and Taneytown, for 23 1/2 years, Golliday and his wife, Genie, will be traveling to Sebastian, Fla., to guide the newly formed United Church of Sebastian.
His first sermon for the new United Church of Christ congregation will be May 1.
"We had a strong feeling we were being called to do something else," Golliday said of his decision to leave Carroll. "Thenafter two years of agonizing, out of the blue, this church in Florida called and wanted to know if we were interested in starting a new church.
"At 49, we are looking at starting the second half of our life in a whole new area."
The congregation of 125 people -- still raising money to build a sanctuary on the property they own near the Atlantic Ocean -- now meets in a Masonic lodge in the growing Floridatown.
"It's estimated the town will grow 400 percent over the next decade," said Golliday. "One of my tasks will be to double the sizeof the new church in a year and a half."
The church's budget is so small, Golliday has created his own calling cards with a computer and Xerox machine to save costs.
But what motivated him to join this fledgling group was its energy and enthusiasm, he said.
"They are very high-energy people, very joyous," Golliday said. "They are very committed to the task of putting a church in this East Coast town. It became apparent that God intended us to move on."
Making the final decision required a "leap of faith," Golliday said.
Although most of the pieces have fallen into place, challenges lie ahead. GenieGolliday still must find a job in Florida after resigning as director of the intensive treatment program at Hoffman Homes for Youth in Littlestown, Pa.
However, the recession has dried up job opportunities in her field, which could make things tough financially for the couple.
"I keep saying if she doesn't find a job, we'll put her in the orange groves," Golliday joked. "It got to the point one morning that we said, 'It's got to be.'
"We just have to live off my salary, something we're not used to doing."
Leaving Carroll for the sunshine state is not without its sorrows, however.
Golliday began hispastoral career at Emmanuel and both his daughters -- Kathleen, 23, and Morgan, 22 -- grew up here, and the pastor said he feels close ties with the community.
"We're leaving all of our friends," he said. "The people we served have been our family for 23 years."
Carroll's proximity to Baltimore, Washington and Gettysburg, Pa., have madeit "a neat place to live," and has offered some "luxuries" that natives take for granted, Golliday said.
"We are very close to some top-notch medical facilities," said. "Carroll County has a lot of resources for people that not every place has.
"If I ever needed some assistance with a (parishioner), I always knew there was a number I could call for alcohol problems, battered women, help for the elderly, whatever."
Personally, Golliday said he would miss the New WindsorService Center, another county specialty he said residents take for granted.
"It's a major resource that people come to from all over the East Coast," he said, noting its work with disaster relief and refugees. "It's a major center for several international church organizations."
Preparations have begun to find a new pastor for the approximately 250-member congregation, but one has yet to be chosen.
Meanwhile, Golliday will be traveling south, guiding a new flock and hoping to spend some time with his hobbies, sailing and surf fishing.
"A day off is a rare thing, but I'll try to do some more fishing,"he said. "Where we're going, we're only a mile from the waterfront."