Pastor Patty Frick, the newly arrived pastor at Patagonia Community Church, is looking for a boardwalk. Yes, we are about 300 miles from the ocean, but she’s not deterred.
Well, actually, she’s looking for a boardwalk-equivalent. At her last appointment, which was 14 years in a town on the Eastern Shores of Maryland, she conducted both a traditional worship service in the church, and then went outside to an Irish pub on the ocean boardwalk to offer “a different kind of connecting on Sunday.”
Moving southwest to the desert may be a big change in geography for Pastor Patty, but not in her enthusiasm and creativity for bringing people of different backgrounds and ages together in community.
Frick came by Patagonia honestly – through the lure of the Methodist Church Thrift Shop. She and her husband, Andy, a fellow United Methodist Church pastor, had retired last year and moved to Green Valley. When visiting friends wanted to visit Patagonia, Frick happily agreed. It was a chance to return to the village with its church-run Thrift Shop and her favorite bakeries. On this visit, Frick asked in the Thrift Shop if there was any way to get a peek into the little church across the courtyard.
The afternoon light coming in through the stained windows did its magic.
“It truly was a jewel box as advertised,” said Patty.
That, plus what turned out to be an extensive impromptu tour by church music director, Anne Quirin, astonished Frick with what she calls a “God moment. . .I felt like I had arrived in a church home.” She had been considering coming out of retirement, and when she heard that there might be a vacancy here due to restructuring to a half-time position because of budget constraints, she went home and crossed her fingers.
“Even if I don’t get the appointment now, I’ll come back to Patagonia,” she decided.
In a stroke of good luck, the bishop’s office making yearly decisions on where pastors are assigned in the state announced the appointment of Rev. Patty Frick to Patagonia Community UMC.
Both she and her husband will be living in the town parsonage together for the first time in their pastoral careers. Back in Maryland, their churches were 35 minutes apart, but both felt strongly about being part of the community. So instead of commuting every day, Andy would come to Patty’s home on Thursdays, leaving Saturdays.
“People would wonder ‘who is this maintenance man coming with ladders and work tools and staying…and she’s a pastor!!!” they laughed.
Here in Patagonia, where they expect their half-time position will have them in town from Thursday to Sunday, they want people to see both of them as their ministers. Andy will also offer office hours since he especially enjoys pastoral care.
“Everybody has a book inside them and it’s an honor – humbling – to be able to listen to people’s stories,” he said.
Their backgrounds offer plenty to equip them with in contributing to the Patagonia community. Frick worked in a variety of fields, including education and communications before becoming a minister. She holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Maryland and a Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. Andy worked in retail sales with Kraft Foods before he felt the call to ministry. He also used to build sets for community theater. Both pastors are eager to see Thurber Hall with its curtained stage used as a community resource.
Frick’s hope in Patagonia is to “bring people together in community, finding bridges through our many different backgrounds, so we can feel filled with God’s love, grace, and acceptance for each other. My core is Christianity, but I would like to also offer alternative ways to knowing God.”
In the past, this has included Persian food and poetry night and a blessing of pets – costumed – including horses. Andy even used to bless combines for harvest.
While the church is closed due to Covid restrictions, Sunday morning services are broadcast at 10am on KPUP 100.5 and live-streamed on www.kpup.rocks. After her first on-air service, Frick hoped she had communicated her “big heart to reach all those who need love and compassion.”
So any ideas for boardwalk-equivalents? Pastor Patty Frick welcomes all thoughts or questions at 520-394-2730 or email@example.com