FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF ALLENTOWN
The Rev. Dr. Michael A. Drake retired from First Presbyterian Church of Allentown in September and sat down with The Press recently for an interview about his years of service.
Drake grew up in Greenville, Pa. with a Presbyterian father and a Methodist mother.
He studied piano and organ as a child and was involved in church school and youth groups.
Drake was a music major at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa.
It was during his college years 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., in 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.
He then joined Larchmont Avenue Presbyterian Church, in 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 FPC Allentown 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 is married to his wife, Debbie, who has enjoyed a career in nursing, most recently with St. Luke’s University Health Network in Quakertown. She retired in April.
The couple has two children, Andy and Ashley and two grandchildren Wyatt, 11 and Logan, 9.
In 2014, Drake requested to move to 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 FPC Allentown 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. We ate our meals with them and showed kids and moms good hygiene habits with clean water,” Drake said.
“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 hopes 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 which states, “In gratitude for 23 years of faithful ministry at First Presbyterian Church Allentown, The Reverend Doctor Michael A. Drake is named Pastor Emeritus on this day September 17, 2017.”
Of his call to FPC Allentown, Drake said, “It was the right place at the right time. I’m glad I listened.”