BANGOR, Maine — A longtime meteorologist for WLBZ-TV Channel 2 has decided to give up his television job to follow his spiritual calling.

Steven W. Smith, who is better known as weatherman Steve McKay, announced Wednesday that he is leaving the station where he has worked since 1994 to work as a full-time minister. He received his master of arts degree from Bangor Theological Seminary in a ceremony at First United Methodist Church on Essex Street in May 2009. Last year he enrolled in a doctorate of ministry program at Duke University, which “has only sharpened my interest in church leadership,” he said in a Wednesday statement about his decision to leave TV.

Smith, 55, said it “was a tough decision, but it was an easy decision as well.”

“I’m leaving something I love for something I love,” he said.

For the last eight years he has been a pastor in his hometown at the Orono United Methodist Church and is entering his third year leading the Alton United Methodist Church. He started his work at two United Methodist congregations in Washington County.

“For the last several years I have been balancing both my television and church duties, but now feel the time is right to make a transition to devote more of my time and energy to the Orono and Alton United Methodist Churches,” Smith said. “This is a tough decision; I am very grateful for these many years at WLBZ 2, yet am also thankful to be able to pursue this opportunity to spend more time in ministry.

“My last night telling the weather story on News Center will be Sunday, April 17. Many thanks for the evenings we have shared while watching Maine weather together!”

The entire community will miss Steve McKay, according to Judy Horan, president and general manager of the Bangor station, who hired him 22 years ago.

“He’s just been a terrific employee, a great colleague,” she said Wednesday, shortly after the announcement was posted online.

The way Steve McKay acts on camera — friendly, generous, thoughtful — is how he is off camera, Horan said.

“We’ll really miss him,” she said. “I think it’s going to be a sentiment shared by everyone.”

The message posted by the retiring meteorologist invites people to “leave your ‘Bye, Steve!’” or go to Steve’s Facebook page and do it there.

McKay, whose forecasts appeared in the Bangor Daily News for several years, will be featured on the channel’s “207” show at 7 p.m. Thursday, and a send-off is planned for Friday’s 6 p.m. evening news.

“We’ll be doing a special goodbye,” Horan said.

The meteorologist position at the station will be filled, she said.