ROANOKE, Va. -

Sunday held special significance for members of one Roanoke congregation.  Christ Episcopal Church celebrated more than 20 years of leadership by its longtime minister, the Reverend Deborah Hentz Hunley.

Hunley is preparing to retire, and Sunday afternoon church members came together to thank her for her years of service.

"She is an exceptional woman. We are fortunate to have had her all of these years," said Retired Bishop Heath Light.

"She has an openness about her... that incorporates people who might otherwise be on the margins," Light told WDBJ7, "And it's that sort of ministry and that sort of mission that she is well-reputed for."

Hunley has been associated with Christ Church for more than 30 years. She was the first woman ordained as a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.