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Ungers leaving Grace
Wayne and Sue Unger came to Ceres in the summer of 1987 to pastor a church. Confident that they have made their mark for the better, they're headed back to their roots in Southern Indiana. Pastor Unger's last Sunday at Grace Community Christian Church will be on May 4.

"I turned 65 last September and it just seemed like a good idea to retire," said Wayne, who entered the ministry in 1960.

The Ungers led the establishment of Grace after a three-year pastorship at Ceres Christian Church. The church started up Oct. 28, 1990 in the Unger's Henry Court home and quickly grew to the point where more room was needed. For a while Carroll Fowler Elementary's cafeteria handled the meetings but more growth meant more need for space on Sundays. For nine and a half years the church set up and tore down for worship services in the Ceres High School gym until the church purchased and developed a site on Service Road.

Eleven years ago the Ungers started the wildly popular Journey to Bethlehem experience at Christmas time on the church property. The event will go on, he promises.

"The plans are already in the works."

The Unger plan to farm corn and soy beans on the family farm near Sullivan, Ind., about 30 miles south of Terre Haute. Wayne farmed earlier in his life but admits he'll have to get up to speed with the computerized high-tech aspects of farming.

"It's time. I'm tired. I'm ready to go back," said Pastor Unger. "We've been away from our oldest daughter and hey kids years and years. Sue's family there. I have a brother there."

Unger said he's open to fill pulpit absences in Indiana on a "here and there" basis.

Unger announced his retirement in September in order to give his church time to find a new pastor. The congregation hired Washington pastor Steve LaFarge who will move to Ceres in July. In the meantime, preaching duties will fall to youth pastor Kirk Evans and Grace member J.E. "Butch" Blend, who is a Bible college graduate.

Unger believes he is leaving Grace in good health. The change will be a win-win for him personally and the church, he said.

"I'm looking forward to being able to do something fresh and different for a while. We'll miss the people, certainly. We've got some dear friends after being here over 20 years. But I'm really looking forward to it.

"This change is positive. The church is going well. This will give them a chance to take a positive new vision and leadership."

Grace has about 225 in its congregation. The church has a use permit approval for another new building but "where that stands is going to be with the people and new pastor."

Sue will be retiring from Prudential California real estate where she has been for years. She has also enjoyed active membership in Soroptimist International of Ceres.

The Ungers will be celebrated at a dessert and coffee open house on Sunday April 27. The event will be held from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the home of Judy Megee at 3925 E. Service Road. Those touched by the Unger's life and ministry are invited to drop in.

The Ungers spent time ministering in Africa and Rhodesia from 1966 to 1973. He pastored a church in Indianapolis for a while and then worked in Austria behind the Iron Curtain.