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SRO Crowd Embraces Retiring Glen Rock Pastor, Police Chaplain

The Tanis family thanks Rev. Roger Spencer for his decades of service. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
The Good Shepherd Lutheran Church was packed for Rev. Roger Spencer's final sermon before retirement. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
The intersection of S. Highwood and Ackerman avenues in Glen Rock was named after longtime Good Shepherd Lutheran Church Rev. Roger Spencer. Photo Credit: Anthony Locicero
The interior of the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glen Rock. Photo Credit: Submitted

GLEN ROCK, NJ -- "To be a success, you have to love your people," the Rev. Roger Spencer told an adoring, standing-room-only gathering during his final sermon at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Glen Rock on Sunday.

"I couldn't find better words to describe Reverend Spencer," borough Police Sgt. Dean Ackerman told Daily Voice. "He's served this community, he's served the Lord and he's served [police] as chaplain -- with dignity, honor and compassion."

After Mass, the retiring pastor stood near the front doors of the church with his wife, Pat. He shook hands and embraced congregants, many of whom were moved to tears.

The appreciative congregation included several police officers.

Spencer, who joined Good Shepherd in 1982, became the chaplain for borough police and their PBA in 1999.

He is "a pillar in the community," Director of Music Ministries Peter Calabro said Sunday.

No further proof was needed than the intersection of South Highwood and Ackerman avenues -- dubbed Rev. Spencer Square.

Then there was the turnout for Spencer's final Mass, which forced Ackerman to park his police cruiser two blocks away.

Kaylee and Justin Tanis, who were baptized by the affable reverend, shared a warm farewell.

"He's always been there for our family when we needed him," said their parents, Amy and Brian Tanis.

Spencer, who sustained a major stroke two years ago, is moving to North Haledon with his wife.

"It's been a joy," he told Daily Voice after Mass. "It's been a gift, a gift from God. This is a wonderful community."

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