New pastor serving Word of God Lutheran Church

CNJ staff photo: Benna Sayyed The Word of God congregation meets on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. in The Chapel at 1500 Thornton Street. Pastor Rollinson will strive to help the congregation get its own building.

Benna Sayyed

The Word of God Lutheran Church in Clovis now has a new pastor. John T. Rollinson, 73, has committed to serve Word of God for one year.

Rollinson started Jan. 1 but said he is open to possibly leading the congregation after his year is up.

Rollinson and his wife Shirley became regular members of the Word of God in May 2011.

“My wife and I found it to be a very friendly and welcoming congregation. So we attended and as we got acquainted they said ‘you know, we’ve been looking for a new pastor,’” Rollinson said.

“When they heard that I was retired and might be available to come serve as their pastor they said ‘Well, let’s talk about that,’ and here I am. I am 73 years old and wondering if God had any further work for me to do and I’m very pleased that God has opened this door for me.”

Rollinson stepped up to lead Word of God when its former pastor, Cameron Ridenhour, decided to become assissant pastor due to his job obligations at the Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Department.

“I know that the church is better served with Pastor John taking the role because he can do this job on a full-time basis as compared to what I can because of my job that I have during the week,” Ridenhour said.

“Sometimes it might take me out of town where if something were to happen with a parishioner, I couldn’t get there if they needed pastoral care.”

As the new pastor of Word of God, Rollinson will lead the people in Sunday worship, teach the faith of the church, look after the personal and family needs of the congregation and help the church better serve the community through outreach.

The Word of God congregation meets 9:30 a.m. Sunday in The Chapel, 1500 Thornton St., which is owned by Muffley Funeral Home. Rollinson said he hopes to help the congregation move into its own building.

According to Rollinson, Word of God is the newest of the three Lutheran congregations in Clovis and has existed for slightly more than two years. Rollinson grew up in northeast New Jersey and in Rhode Island. After earning a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s degree in divinity, he was ordained as a minister in the Episcopal church. Rollinson has served as a minister in Clovis, Calif., and Houston, Texas.

Rollinson also spent 20 years in the U.S. Army as a military intelligence officer and as a translator. He moved to Clovis in 1992 and served as pastor at St. James Episcopal Church, 1117 N Main St. from 1992 to 2006. In addition to being a pastor, Rollinson also teaches a class on the Old Testament at Eastern New Mexico University.

Ridenhour said passing on the pastorship to Rollinson is bittersweet.

“John is really known within the community. He can help us get the church out into the public so the public knows that we’re there. Hopefully he might be able to get into contact with people who are looking for a church home,” Ridenhour said.

Ridenhour said he will back up Rollinson when he is on vacation or is too busy to do Sunday service. He said he and Rollinson have a very close relationship, the two continually converse about church related issues and the direction the church is heading.