The leader of one of the most prominent Minneapolis churches has announced his retirement.

The Rev. James Gertmenian shared his plans to retire as senior minister from Plymouth Congregational Church by early 2015 during worship service on Sunday, according to a released statement from the church.

Gertmenian, 66, has served in the position for 17 years at Plymouth, which has close to 1,500 families attending the church located near downtown.

“Few clergy get the opportunity to preach regularly to such a stimulating and discerning congregation,” he wrote in a letter to church members.

“Gertmenian was among the people responsible a decade ago for the founding of the Plymouth Church Neighborhood Foundation, now known as Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Having grown from one to more than 20 congregations, Beacon addresses the problem of homelessness through supportive housing and advocacy. Gertmenian also co-chaired Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak’s 2006 Commission to End Homelessness and served with Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness,” according to the released statement.

“A promoter of interfaith dialogue, Gertmenian received the 2009 Temple Israel Interfaith Award for Commitment to Interfaith Understanding.”

Gertmenian decided to give advance notice to the congregation of his retirement “so that, if it wishes, it may search for a successor while he is still serving.”