Meet our associate for vision pastor, the Rev. Deborah Tinsley, at Vista Grande United Church of Christ in Colorado Springs, in her own words:
Many of you have known me over the course of my over 30-year ministry in Colorado. But to just give a brief intro to those who may not know:
My spouse John and I came to Colorado Springs from Southern California in 1974 when he was assigned to the USAFA. I graduated with a degree in Psychology from California State University, Long Beach and on moving to Colorado was hired as the Supervising Behavioral Specialist for the Mountain Plains Region Deaf Blind program at the Colorado School for the Deaf and the Blind. Following this I became a Realtor, both in re-sale and then as a Pulte/American Builders sales rep. I started several businesses, did consulting with the Yavapi Apache Business Development Council outside Fountain, AZ. Attending Iliff School of Theology, I was licensed and began serving churches in Colorado in 1987, being ordained at First Congregational UCC in Colorado Springs in 1989. I served as Pastor of First Congregational UCC Pueblo, and then as Associate at Broadmoor UCC. During this time, I was on many committees and groups in the Southeastern Association and with the Rocky Mountain Conference, and was the CUE (Chicago, United, and Eden Seminary) representative for many years.
Family needs became urgent in the mid 1990’s and I left my position at Broadmoor UCC to become sole caregiver for my mother-in-law. I had no way of knowing that this would begin a twenty-year period of caring for elderly and dying relatives. During this time, I was on the Board of S.T.A.Y. , a non-profit with five group homes for the care of children placed in these homes by the courts. I then became the Executive Director. I used this time to take Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), serving as a Chaplain at the State Mental Hospital as well as Parkview Hospital, and earned 3 units of CPE. Because of the nature of the caregiving I continued to do with family, I became certified in death and grief with Dr. Alan Wolfelt and with the Hospice Foundation of America. Through all these years, I continued to do pulpit supply as well as officiating at weddings, funerals, baptisms in many states in the U.S.
My hobbies are travel, writing, cooking. While John and I did not have children of our own, we love to confound our friends about “our girls,” who are now grown women, and our “Grandchildren”. All the girls adopted us as their “Auntie D and Uncle John” and our Great nieces and nephews consider us their Grandparents; this is simply great with us. The mental, emotional, and physical health of all children is a passion that began back in my youth and continues to be a motivating force even now.
Vista Grande establishing a position of Associate for Vision could not have been more percipient: who could have predicted the remarkable and sometimes overwhelming changes we are experiencing in the life of the church as the church reaches out to meet the needs of these times. We are looking toward a future we can not yet see. It is up to each of us to bring all of the best of who we are to engage in new ways of living out our faith, for we are the midwives birthing the new thing emerging, the church as it can and should be. My experience with Vista Grande, going back to the 1980’s. is a community strong in mission with a solid commitment to justice and peace as an expression of the Gospel’s call to discipleship. We may not yet know what the church will look like going forward, but we do know we bring those values and our faith to the work of envisioning a new way of being. That you have asked me to shepherd that work means I get to be the Border Collie nipping at heels and being generally annoying, helping to keep the pack together and headed that’a way, toward the unknown.
Being Vista Grande, I know the work will be done with humor and a grace that welcomes all, encourages all, supports all who call Vista Grande UCC home.
We may not know the future, but we do know who holds the future. and who calls us to be faithful in our envisioning a future church that is founded on justice, mercy, and love of all our neighbors. This charge is an honor, and I value your trust in me. May God give us the strength and will to be the future church.
Rev. Deborah Tinsley