The Christian Church in Arizona is sending a great big virtual thank you hug to Rev. Jay Deskins.   For the last two years, Jay has served as the full-time Regional Youth and Children’s Minister.  This position was created as a 2-year contract funded by the Creative Mission & Ministry Fund.  During his two years, Jay led a successful merging of our camping program with the UCC camp, planned and led meaningful and fun mid-winter retreats, and then faced the big challenge of trying to create a virtual replacement for in-person camp.  Through it all, Jay has led with grace, humility, and dedication.  In addition, Jay has partnered with the rest of Regional staff in whatever ways needed, helping with technology, helping lead events, and bringing his sense of humor to our staff meetings.  We will miss Jay on the Regional Staff and are truly grateful for his leadership.

We invite all who would like to thank Jay to send a card to him at the Regional Office (917 E. Sheridan St., Phoenix, AZ, 85006).

A task force of regional leaders will be convened to discern what is next for Youth and Children’s Ministry in Arizona. Contact Rev. Jay R. Hartley if you would like to be part of that discussion.

Please read the letter below from Rev. Jay Deskins.

Dear Arizona Disciples,

Thank you! Thank you for an opportunity to serve you! I am thankful for the opportunity to grow, and try new things. I am thankful for the welcome I received at your churches. I am thankful because you all put youth and children as a priority in the region.

Over the last two years, I have been blessed by working with the youth and children of this region. In their smiles and questions, laughter and play, and prayers and singing I am made more aware of God’s love in the world.

Over the last two years, we have accomplished a lot. We built a bridge with our sister denomination, the United Church of Christ, re-evaluated our policies and procedures, our purposes for camp, created a new camp program with our partners, we said “Goodbye” to Camp Pinerock and said “Hello” to Emmanuel Pines, we have had several winter retreats, and we are continuing to create space to welcome all Disciples to participate in our youth and children’s programs.

This summer was not how I, or anyone, planned. Creating and planning a virtual camp was not on my radar for any point in my life. But through faith and encouragement, we put on a great experience together.

As I transition out of this ministry, I am hopeful for what God is doing in this moment. While this moment might be scary for us right now, I fully believe that what comes next is bigger, more beautiful, and more full than what was before. I think youth and children’s ministry will change forever from this moment, for the better. I think camp will change forever from this moment, for the better. I think church will change forever from this moment, for the better.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to serve the region. I am blessed to be in ministry with so many great colleagues and friends here in Arizona!

Peace,

Jay Deskins

Youth & Children

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