Although Island Christian’s pastor and school founder Tony Hammon is formally retiring, he doesn’t see his life changing much as the Upper Keys resident chaplain. 

“I just won’t be getting paid for it,” he told the Weekly at a recently Upper Keys Rotary meeting.  

The community will be honoring Hammon and his wife, Colleen, with a special worship service this Sunday, Sept. 16, at Island Christian followed by a catered lunch and program celebrating more than 40 years of service to their community. 

“I have known him literally all my life,” said Coral Shores Athletic Director Richard Russell – one of Hammon’s former students. “We used to have arguments back and forth when he was teaching evolution in my class and we had some heated debates. Then he fully converted.”

Hammon founded Island Christian in 1973 and has worn multiple hats as an educator, principal, coach, superintendent and whatever else needed to be done. 

“He is an icon in this community,” Russell added. “He is Island Christian’s pastor, but in a larger sense, he is this community’s pastor. When something goes wrong – there is a call to Tony. He is ‘the chaplain’ up here.”

Islamorada Fire Chief Terry Abel echoed Russell’s sentiments and said the firefighters will let Hammon know when a family may need his spiritual leadership or comfort. 

The Sunday event will include a slide show presentation. 

With a twinkle in his eye, Russell smiled and said, “there will be remarks,” but refused to elaborate. 

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