Come and See…
Welcome to Sunrise United Methodist Church!
I am very excited to be at Sunrise UMC! Its been a surprising and interesting journey becoming your new pastor.
But, in the meantime, let me tell you a little about me. I grew up in California and northern Arizona (Holbrook). I have degrees in Animal Science, Horse Science and a Master’s in Divinity. I know it is a weird path to the ministry, but I love animals and wanted to work with them as a career, but God had other ideas and I ended up at seminary. I’ve been ordained as an Elder in the Iowa Annual Conference of the UMC for 28 years serving churches in the Dakotas, Iowa, Ohio and Pennsylvania. A lot of my time in ministry has been spent working with college students as a campus minister/chaplain. I just retired a year ago as Chaplain at Dickinson College where I served the past seven years. I loved working with college students and their enthusiasm and “try anything” attitude. They brought me great joy. However, I realized I was feeling the need to retire and spend time with my husband seeing the sights of our amazing country before it was too late. So, we sold our house, bought a 5th wheel and took to the road.
We have been workamping in Colorado, southern Arizona and Montana, doing everything from cabin cleaning, gift shop clerking, horse rescue to maintenance and landscaping. We’ve had a great time touring the west with our two Weimaraner, Belle and Bailey but I began to realize that I wasn’t quite ready to be completely retired, I missed being in ministry. I contacted the Desert Southwest Conference office and asked if they ever have any part-time churches open an hour from Eloy, AZ (my husband sky dives) and much more quickly than expected, I was offered the opportunity to be your new pastor.
When I got the call, we were in Columbia Falls, MT near Glacier National Park workamping at a beautiful Bed and Breakfast, so after a month of work we left mid-June and headed down to sunny (and much, much hotter) Arizona.
I come to you excited, nervous, hopeful, and even a bit fearful. Probably all the same things you are feeling right now. This “change of pastor” thing is always difficult. There is grief losing your beloved Pastor Kimber. There is the excitement of coming back to church after a long Covid-induced break. There is the fear that she (me) may do things differently, that we are starting over again, once again. There is the hope that this will be great. Here is what I know; God is with us in this journey. God knows our fears, our hopes, our dreams, our struggles…. all of it! God will bring comfort and strength and joy to our being together because this is God’s church.
Your name is so perfect, SUNRISE. It is a new day, a new dawn, a new sunrise, a new start for all of us. I am excited to be here, and I hope you are excited too!
Rev. Donna Hughes