There were two cities in Colorado that were known for their unique olfactory identities. Pueblo AKA “Pew Town” and Greeley, whose odor was like living in a barn yard. Both of these communities have deep historical roots in Colorado that go back to the 1800’s. I would say they are the backbone of real Colorado. And yes I have Pioneer License Plates!!! My granddad Paul Pumphrey, was born in Denver in 1892. His family moved to LaSalle when he was a kid and he grew up six miles from Greeley. As a kid I remember lots of stories about Greeley. Little did I know that my life would intersect with the headwaters of my Colorado roots.
It’s no secret that I failed retirement. My Lyft driving starting five years ago saved my sanity. I loved being the anonymous pastor just out among the folks. I would now say it should be a requirement to drive for Lyft if you are in ministry. Too many pastors live in silos, which is an occupational hazard. The Jesus we follow spent his time out with “all the people”. The two years I had not being connected with a congregation taught me a lot. In February of 2017, I was asked if I could help out the congregation at First Christian Church of Greeley, who had been looking for a pastor for over two years. Their interim had left and I was to be there as “pastoral duct tape”. I was ready to help however I could. I soon noticed that I had been deeply influenced by nearly 6,000 Lyft rides. By June the congregation asked If I would consider a more long term relationship. It has been a very delightful connection.
I have been a fortunate man. I found my way back into ministry and found out that I love the local church at Central Christian in Pueblo—‘81-86. I got to raise my kids in a magical place called the San Luis Valley, where I served the Disciple Churches in Alamosa and Monte Vista—‘86-‘97. The 11 years there taught me a lot about agrarian life in the midst of a very complex interaction of many cultures. It will always be one of my homes. The nearly 18 years I spent at South Broadway CC in Denver—‘1997-2015 was the crown jewel of my life in ministry. I watched an historic church find its life in the 21st century. I never saw this time in Greeley coming. It is a church that is deeply committed to service and generosity. They are an amazing crew of folk who are figuring out how to thrive in an environment that none of us could have ever imagined.
I drive through LaSalle three or four times a week on my drives to and from Arvada. There is a park on the north end of town. When I was around four, I went to a family reunion that celebrated my Great Grandmother’s 90th birthday. I remember riding a horse and playing with lots of kids. I am a blessed man, I get to have an encore in ministry with a great church in a wonderful community.
Pueblo just announced that their steel mill is going 100% green and it will be hiring 1000’s of employees as is it becomes a state of the art steel plant for the 21st century. Greeley has eliminated the waft of packing plants and feed lots. They are bookends for our front range and I love them both.
Onward and Upward,