After 20 years of service, the Rev. James M. Shields will retire July 1 from Christ Episcopal Church in Columbia.

Shields, 67, said he leaves with "confidence that the future is in God's and the congregation's hands, since they are God's hands, mouth, feet and body here." During his tenure, attendance has doubled.

In 1996, the Episcopal bishop of Maryland, Robert W. Ihloff, presented his bishop's award to Shield's congregation for "mission, ministry and growth." There currently are about 400 members.

Shields graduated from the University of Maryland with a bachelor's degree in English and from Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge, Mass., with a master of divinity degree. He was ordained in his home town of Pittsburgh, where he served as rector for two parishes.

He plans to travel with his wife, Seiko, in retirement and will minister to smaller parishes to allow resident clergy members an opportunity for sabbatical. Shields, a resident of Columbia, has a son, Sam, and a grandson, Jesse.

The church is at 6800 Oakland Mills Rd. For further information, contact the church office at 410-381-9365.

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