Now that my time as your interim pastor is growing very short, people have been asking me what my plans are. Will I seek another interim position? Will I retire?
My first professional work in the church was in 1980 as an interim camp director. Then I was a youth minister, then went to seminary, and have been an ordained pastor since 1987. I’m ready for a change. So — Cynthia and I are going to do something different.
We have applied to be long-term volunteers with a Presbyterian Border Ministry project in Arizona. Frontera de Cristo (Christ’s Border) is one of several bi-national ministries along the US/Mexico border that have existed since the 1980s. Frontera de Cristo is located in the sister cities of Douglas, Arizona, and Agua Prieta, Sonora, about 120 miles southeast of Tucson, not far from the New Mexico border.
Frontera de Cristo is the ministry that started Just Coffee — the coffee cooperative where I’ve bought my coffee for the past twenty years. Their ministry includes programs for children and youth, a community garden, public health, women’s empowerment, ministries to migrants, the Lilly of the Valley Presbyterian Church (located in Agua Prieta), a cafe and community center that also offers job training to persons coming out of drug rehab, and much more. Frontera cooperates with other ministries and organizations on the border and advocates for a more human border policy. Each Tuesday afternoon, they hold a vigil at the border to remember the migrants who have died in the desert trying to cross the border in Cochise County. You can learn more about the ministry at http://fronteradecristo.org/
Cynthia and I hope to spend from January of 2023 to January of 2024 as volunteers with Frontera. We will sell our house, put our belongings in storage, and work at the border. After that, we intend to come back to Oneida County and find a place to live near Utica. After living in Rome since 2008, we have strong connections to the area.
I’m glad I could walk with you along this part of your journey. I believe God has good things in store for you in the years ahead.
So — if you’re in southeast Arizona in 2023, stop by and visit. And, whether you visit us or not, buy some coffee from Just Coffee. It’s really good coffee!
– Sam P