Sabin will still represent church
July 31, 2009 · 11:19 AM
KINGSTON — After 40 years as senior pastor at Kingston Christian Church, Duane Sabin said he rejects the word “retirement” to describe stepping down from that post.
“I never use the word ‘retirement.’ What I’ve always said is I’m transitioning,” Sabin said. “I continue to represent Kingston Christian on a county level, on a state level, and on an international level as I teach in missions literally around the world.”
Sabin has taught in Russia, Indonesia and Kenya. He’s also on the board of Sound the Alarm, a statewide movement to call churches and pastors to revival. He continues to be a volunteer chaplain to the North Kitsap Fire Department and to participate in fellowship organizations he helped to organize during the past 20 years such as an association of ministers in Greater Kingston and a Kitsap pastors’ network.
“It’s an attempt to unite the churches. Not organizationally. Not doctrinally. I’ve worked in the prayer movement since 1990 and praying with other pastors in prayer retreats and that kind of thing,” he said.
Being a pastor, Sabin said, has always been his destiny. An injury during birth left the infant Sabin paralyzed and near death, but after doctors had given up on him, he miraculously healed.
“I was raised with a sense of destiny that I wish everyone could have. My folks rarely referred to me as their son, not that they didn’t acknowledge I was, but they would say, ‘You’re God’s boy.’”
Sabin comes from a family of pastors — both his father and older brother were pastors before he was born. His father was a traveling evangelist who also “planted churches,” he said.
“I like to say I was born in church and cut my teeth on a hymnal and played in the pews all my life, so ministry was always before me. I was committed to the Lord from birth and I really never entertained anything else.”
In fact, Sabin has had a relationship with the Kingston Christian Church for nearly 60 years, beginning in youth activities when the family first moved to a cabin on Foulweather Bluff near Hansville in the early 1950s. He attended the one-room Eglon school, then was in the first class at Wolfle Elementary in Kingston, and later graduated from North Kitsap High School in 1960. Sabin still lives on the Hansville property along with his son and daughter and their families.
He started as the KCC pastor in August 1969 when he was 27 years old. “I believe I was the first full-time pastor the church had ever had,” he said. When he took over, the church membership was down to about 40 members and the financial outlook was bleak, but Sabin was convinced the situation could be turned around, and in 1990, KCC built a new building “without financing a cent. It was all paid in cash.”
During his tenure, he has seen the church through some difficult times, including a tough decision to separate completely from the Independent Church of Christ to become a truly independent church.
But Sabin has always been aware of the unique situation of ministering in a small community, said Scott Montagne, pastor of Bayside Community Church.
“Duane is the type of guy who would call at someone’s house, and if they needed their lawnmower fixed, he would do it — he was always a handy guy and liked to tinker,” Montagne said. “He saw it as part of the calling in this rural setting.”
Sabin, he said, was “probably the first person to greet me as a pastor in the community” when Montagne came to Bayside in 1982. Since then, the two have served together as volunteer chaplains for the fire department for 25 years, and both are members of the Greater Kingston Ministerial Association, which they helped found. The organization brings together pastors from North End communities to discuss community problems and share solutions.
“We’ve shared many services together,” Montagne said. “We’ve always joked over the years that our churches are like two different gas stations: One pumps regular; one pumps diesel, but both serve the community.”
With the church’s independence, however, Sabin realized the congregation “could not pick up a phone and make a call” to find his replacement as he was ready to take on new challenges, so he urged the congregation to begin a search two years ago.
The new pastor, Scott Pennington, said he has some big shoes to fill.
“The people in the church and the community absolutely love Duane. He’s incredibly loved and very much involved in the community,” he said.
Pennington is grateful, however, that Sabin made the transition so smooth.
“He publicly stated that we didn’t look for a cookie cutter of me and things are going to change a bit. He was very supportive of that process,” he said.
In the next year, Sabin is planning to go abroad to teach once again, but said he thinks he just may take a few months of “down time” to reflect and gather his energy.
“There is still so much important work I want to do, especially in the revival movement, and I can represent Kingston Christian Church in so many other ways,” he said.
Kingston Christian Church is holding a celebration for Sabin at 2 p.m. on Sept. 6 at the church.
The public is invited.