Mike Kildal, executive pastor for Redeemer’s Fellowship, had big plans back in April to honor a pastor who served for more than three decades.

To pay tribute to former Lead Pastor Steve Walker and his wife, Barb Walker, the plan was to rent a hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds for a celebration befitting a man who served in his position for 31 years.

Then public gathering restrictions of a worldwide pandemic changed all of that.

“COVID just crushed it,” Kildal said.

That is until Sunday, when more than 250 members of Redeemer’s Fellowship and other well-wishers lined stretches of West Harvard Avenue to honor the Walkers in a surprise parade.

As people held signs, cheered and waved, Tim Smith drove Steve and Barb Walker and their granddaughter Ellie back and forth along the route in a Ford Mustang convertible for nearly an hour.

The Walkers, who decided to move to Boise, Idaho, to be closer to family, said they were overwhelmed by the attention.

“It’s beyond what I can imagine,” Steve Walker said Sunday.

Steve Walker left his mark on more than members of his flock since the Roseburg native returned home in 1990. He was often seen mentoring young pastors from other churches.

That kind of service is not surprising to Larry and Sandy Swift.

“He’s a great Christian man who not only talks it, but walks it,” Sandy said.

Larry and Sandy Swift sat on folding chairs in front of the Evergreen Family Medicine and Women’s Health parking lot on West Harvard Avenue.

Sandy Swift held a green and yellow hand-painted sign that said “Thank you Pastor Steve.”

Kidal said Redeemer’s Fellowship has been blessed to transition to the church’s new lead pastor, Billy Rieder.

“It’s very tough to say goodbye, but looking forward to the future,” he said.

As for keeping the congregation of more than 1,000 people from spilling the beans to the Walkers, that might be the true miracle, Kidal said.

“It really was a surprise until the convertible showed up,” he said.

Mike Henneke can be reached at mhenneke@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4208. Follow him on Twitter @ihenpecked.

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