Montgomery, Al. (WSFA) --Whether you watched at home or at church, you could feel the emotion.
Dr. John Ed Mathison's last sermon as Senior Minister at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church brought about the end of an era.
Hours later, after nearly 40 years on the pulpit, Mathison took a seat as the community gathered to say, "Thank you."
"You never compromised your Christian faith, and behalf of all these people, I salute you and tell you we all love you," explained friend Albert Long.
Though hundreds of parishioners came to remember the man's time at Frazer, some big names greeted Mathison by way of video messages.
Some even stopped by to show their gratitude.
"You've changed lives of people you have never seen--that you've never met," Governor Bob Riley told Mathison.
It wasn't a sad goodbye. Mathison himself lightened the mood as he took the stage for the last time.
"How in the world do you have to retire at 70, but at 71 you can run for president," Mathison asked the crowd, jokingly.