Hudson -- "I Have Returned" is just one of the thousands of songs sung in local congregations during Sunday worship services.

However, the title could well be the March 30 theme at Christ Church Episcopal, when a former rector returns to the pulpit as guest speaker at both the 8 and 10:30 a.m. services.

The Rev. C. Read Heydt, rector at the church from 1984 to 1995, helped oversee the parish expansion with the "multi-million dollar" construction of current sanctuary at 21 Aurora Street.

"There were a number of folks who made it possible," Heydt said of the construction. "It was a parish-wide project and a lot of people were involved."

Heydt, 76, left Hudson in 1995 to become associate rector at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Boca Grande, Fla., where he retired from in 2012.

"It was probably time," Heydt said of his retirement.

According to Heydt, parish rectors are supposed to retire at 72. However, Heydt was still working at 74. This caused the bishop to send in yearly exceptions to the Catholic Church to continue.

"I think I was beginning to wear out my welcome," Heydt said, chuckling. "It was a great run -- 33 years."

Heydt said he received the call to preach while in his 40s. Prior to attending seminary, Heydt had worked with the banking industry in New York and with U.S. Steel.

"I was 42 when I graduated from seminary," Heydt said.

Heydt is the father of two sons, Michael, 33, and Charlie, 36 and will be in Hudson to attend the funeral of a longtime friend.

"Since I was there, I thought it would be great if I was permitted to preach and it worked out," Heydt.

One of Heydt's fondest memories of his time in Hudson was "helping build together a new beginning for Christ Church," he said.

"It was quite a project," Heydt said. "It was working together on a vision for the next decades."

One of the challenges was conforming to specifications of building in Hudson's historic district.

"There were a lot of things you had to conform to that you would not have to in other areas," according to Heydt.

The project needed to meet with the historic streetscape, Heydt said.

"I like architecture so it was a fun project," Heydt remembered.

As rector, resident and lead of the project, Heydt said he "loved Hudson and loved the people."

"It was a good fit," Heydt said. "And it was a good decade for Christ Church."

Heydt was the person who turned the first spade of dirt on the new sanctuary construction, he said.

"But there were a lot of folk involved in picking the design, the architects and approving the church design and interior," Heydt added.

During the building of the sanctuary, Heydt had to maintain his duties as project lead while "dealing with keeping the congregation focused on the project ahead and not get snagged or bogged down on minutia," he said.

As the walls of the building began to rise, congregational relationships deepened, Heydt said.

"It's times like that, you get to know the congregation very well and they get to know you," Heydt surmised. "And it deepens a relationship enormously."

Heydt said he loves coming back to visit.

"I think there was a strong bond between us because we went through a lot," Heydt said. "You get in the trenches with people and they all become your buddies."

One of Heydt's trench buddies who will be listening to the March 30 sermons is Tom Green, a 30-year member of the parish who served as senior warden during Heydt' tenure.

"He's [Heydt] a wonderful guy," Green said of his friend.

Green called Heydt "crucial" in the sanctuary project.

"I was glad to be a part of that," Green said. "It was really a growth period."

Green said it means a lot that Heydt wants to speak at the services, while in town for his friend's funeral.

"He's a real solid guy," Green said. " We hated to see him go. We didn't want to see him go -- we loved him."


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