Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY DEBBIE GALBRAITHDebbie and Mike Drake attended a retirement luncheon at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown in his honor. PRESS PHOTO BY DEBBIE GALBRAITHDebbie and Mike Drake attended a retirement luncheon at First Presbyterian Church of Allentown in his honor.

Longtime pastor retires from First Presbyterian Church

Monday, January 8, 2018 by Debbie Galbraith in Local News

The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Drake retired in fall 2017 from First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.

Drake, who was raised in Greenville, is the son of a Presbyterian father and a Methodist mother.

He studied piano and organ as a child and was involved in church school and youth groups.

A music major at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, he started to contemplate a career in the church, perhaps as an associate pastor and minister of music.

He then enrolled in Pittsburgh Theological Seminary for his pastoral training.

Drake became an associate pastor for youth and education for a church in Elmhurst, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.

He was there for three years and enjoyed his role but desired a broader experience in the life of the church.

Drake then joined Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church, Larchmont, N.Y., as associate pastor for youth and education and outreach. There he was involved with community outreach, mission, the board of deacons and performed organizational and administrative tasks.

As a self-proclaimed “detail-oriented person,” Drake said he enjoyed the organizational tasks.

In January 1994, Drake joined First Presbyterian Church of Allentown as a senior administrator, associate pastor and was welcomed by a 30-inch blizzard.

His duties at First Presbyterian included administrative work, oversight of building and property, stewardship, mission, as well as sharing in ministry, pastoral care, weddings, funerals, hospital visits and preaching.

Drake’s wife, Debbie, is a nurse, most recently working with St. Luke’s University Health Network, Quakertown. She retired in April 2017.

The couple has two children, Andy and Ashley, and two grandchildren Wyatt and Logan.

In 2014, Drake requested a part-time pastoral position which was granted. That lasted for approximately six months when he went back to full time status following the departure of the lead pastor.

A highlight for Drake is his trip to Honduras, Central America in 2014 with 10 others from the church working with a nonprofit group, Living Water International.

According to Living Water International, “At least 663 million people lack access to safe drinking water.”

The group implements participatory, community-based water solutions in developing countries. They have completed more than 18,000 water projects.

For Drake, he looked at the trip to Honduras as a way to help grow the congregation’s involvement in mission.

“We were drilling wells and interacted with folks there,” Drake said. “We ate our meals with them and showed kids and moms good hygiene habits with clean water.

“The trip definitely changed me. I began to understand the inequality and injustice and their lack of access to basic needs. We are all brothers and sisters.”

Now retired, Drake wants to travel and “will let things unfold and see where they go” as to his next steps.

“I am grateful to the congregation,” Drake said. “I have built lasting friendships and relationships.”

Drake was “roasted” by the congregation upon his retirement.

Following the roast and gifts, Drake was presented with a plaque with the following wording: “In gratitude for 23 years of faithful ministry at First Presbyterian Church Allentown,

“The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Drake is named pastor emeritus on this day Sept. 17, 2017.”

Drake discussed his call to First Presbyterian Church of Allentown.

“It was the right place at the right time,” Drake said. “I’m glad I listened.”