Rev. Patty Rumpza talks to God. All the time. Which is really cool, except it wasn’t cool when she was a young girl. She was reprimanded for claiming to communicate directly with the Almighty and concluded that her God and the God her upbringing were very different. She didn’t stop having conversations–she just stopped telling people about them.
Fast forward to age 26. To say Patty’s life wasn’t working would be a vast understatement, she had turned to drugs and alcohol as a means of escape. However, she also had been introduced to Religious Science and had started taking classes. Patty had always believed in a loving God, and the principles she was learning, the “laws” of the Universe and spiritual mind treatment, showed her that it didn’t matter where you came from–you could use these principles to change your life. And her life got better. And better.
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At a conference near Houston, Patty heard Rev. Lari Goold (“five feet tall on her toes”), Regional Director of Youth of Religious Science, speaking passionately about teens and kids, the need to serve, and how much we learn from them. Rev. Lari was there to recruit people to work in youth ministries. “My arm literally raised on its own,” says Patty, and she jumped right into starting a youth program. Soon she had over 50 kids participating, and some of them started bringing their parents.
“Teenagers taught me how to be real.” Patty got into volunteering with the Young Warriors, a program for gang members in prison. “It totally expanded my heart…People in there, for the most part, came from abuse – severe abuse.” When she asked them why they felt comfortable talking to her when they wouldn’t open up to other staff, they said, “We can tell you’re real.”
Two years after meeting Rev. Lari, Patty was sitting on the steps of a summer camp in Fort Worth, when the message came to her, “You’re going to be a minister.”
She talked to a fellow counselor who advised her to pray about it.
“God, this is Patty Rumpza. Of Houston, Texas. You said you want me to be a minister. Don’t you know what I’ve done? Don’t you know who I am? There’s no way with what I’ve done in my life that I could ever be a minister.”
But she kept taking classes, and in 1994 she became a Licensed Practitioner. She continued to work with youth and family programs and do pastoral care.
“I didn’t say, ‘Be a practitioner.’ I said, ‘Be a minister.’”
“Just leave me alone, OK?”
But in 1997, she not only entered ministerial school, she went back to finish her bachelor’s and then master’s degrees. It wasn’t until one month before graduating that she finally said, “All right, all right. I’ll do it.”
Today, goal is to create something so compelling that no one would want to miss a single Sunday. Rev. Patty is still committed to giving kids and families (from traditional to very non-traditional) the support and tools they need not only to survive, but to flourish. She is still committed to community service and addressing some of the most serious issues facing the Grand Valley: Grand Junction has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. There has been a severe spike in domestic violence incidents. There is not enough acceptance for members of the GLBT community. Although rarely discussed, human trafficking remains a problem. And there’s poverty and homelessness…
“The role of the church is to help people grow in love and to honor diversity. Theology from the head transforms nothing. Knowing all the facts is meaningless. Change happens from the heart. We’re here to assist others in real and practical ways. People want to be heard, want to be loved, to have a sense of belonging. If you love on the outcasts long enough, they’re no longer outcasts.”