By Linda Kor
The United Methodist Churches in Holbrook and Winslow have welcomed a new pastor. Pastor Jimmy Nelson began serving those communities last month, and is excited to get to know and become involved in each of the communities.
Nelson is also an academic, and plans to graduate from Northern Arizona University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration Services and a minor in Sociology.
“I was born into the ministry, all my life it was what I knew I was going to do,” he said.
Nelson was born and raised in Long Beach, Calif., and was baptized at the First United Methodist Church of Long Beach in 1971. In 1973, he drifted away from the church and moved to Rancho, Calif., and ultimately to Aguanga, Calif., where he owned a ranch. In 1994 he moved to Las Vegas and worked for a casino as a front desk night auditor. In 1998, he returned to the church to continue his calling.
In 2003 he was called as the director of children’s ministries and director of fundraising, then later became the assistant to the pastor. In July 2006 he was appointed to his first charge, Hope United Methodist Church in Tucson, where he helped the congregation build from 50 members to 137.
Nelson takes the ceremonial aspects of the church very seriously, but calls himself a “new generation minister,” preferring to walk amongst parishioners and interact with them during his sermons, often wearing neon green sneakers, rather than speak from the pulpit.
That approach goes beyond the church as well. “I believe that it’s about attendance, not membership, I don’t chase down members because I know with faith it’s not a ‘one size fits all’ and people need to find a spiritual home wherever that may be. I do encourage members to be out in the public, serving their communities and each other, to be an example,” said the pastor.
Nelson lives in the Holbrook parsonage with his brother Doug and has many hobbies, including writing, fishing, camping and woodworking. “I like to work in my shop making toys for kids. I especially enjoy making things that rock, rocking horses, giraffes, planes, if I can slap a set of rockers on it I’ll do it,” he said, adding that his brother enjoys welding and metal sculpting with a keen eye for detail and that they work together on projects.
Along with his hobbies, Nelson also enjoys “dressing up” for the holidays. He owns a Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, even an Angry Birds costume that he brings out at community events as the occasion warrants.
Pastor Nelson invites the community to services at the United Methodist Church, beginning at 9 a.m. each Sunday at 118 W. Arizona St. in Holbrook, or at 11 a.m. at 101 E. Hillview St. in Winslow.