Tim and Cindy Dudley are embarking on their first pastorate journey in their 50s.
“It’s the big bang before we finish,” says Cindy, 56. “God can still use us as an older couple. We feel this is the prime in our lives. We’re now walking in our purpose.”
Beginning Aug. 19, the Dudleys will oversee the first Assemblies of God congregation in Hurricane, a growing community in the high desert of southwest Utah.
The Hurricane congregation will be a parent affiliate church of New Life Christian Center, 25 miles west of Hurricane. For the past couple of years, the Dudleys have served in ministry through New Life. Tim, 53, has been a men’s leader and youth leader; Cindy has focused on assisted living and children’s ministries. Both have preached from the pulpit, served as home group leaders, and done hospital visitation.
A dozen members of New Life St. George will help the Hurricane church get off the ground. The Dudleys figured they would be associate ministers the rest of their days, but with the backing of New Life Christian Center they have received the requisite training to lead on their own.
“Tim and Cindy are ready to be pastors,” says New Life Pastor Javier Jimenez, 46. “They are hard workers and well prepared.”
The Dudleys, who are both New York natives, have lived in Utah since 2001, a couple of years after they wed as a blended family, with the childless Tim marrying a woman with four children. Neither Tim nor Cindy had been Christians for long at the time.
Southwest Utah is dominated by Mormon residents. In addition, Hurricane, which has nearly doubled in size to 16,160 residents since the turn of the century, is about 20 miles northwest of the epicenter of fundamentalist polygamist sects in Colorado City, Arizona.
Affordable housing is available in Hurricane, where almost two-thirds of the populace is under age 45. Jimenez figures the demographics will be different between the two locales. The St. George church has many longtime Christians who are comfortably retired. The Hurricane congregation is more likely to attract younger families.
The Dudleys plan to distribute meat and bread to needy residents in mobile home parks on Saturdays. Another feature of the church will be monthly appreciation dinners for professionals such as firefighters or nurses who are often taken for granted. New Life Hurricane is renting the local American Legion building for only $100 on Sundays.
The Dudleys attended a Church Multiplication Network training and launch event in June.
Jimenez, a former investment vice president for a reputable Wall Street firm, isn’t worried about forfeiting members to the church plant. New Life St. George, which now draws an average crowd of 150, has doubled in attendance since Jimenez and his wife, Ia, took over as co-pastors in October 2014. Working with the church board, the couple has steered the church to eradicate $1.8 million in debt.
IMAGE - Utah pastors and church planters are (from left) Tim and Cindy Dudley, Jan and Vern Fink, and Ia and Javier Jimenez.