Community, congregation celebrate Mayfield’s 20th anniversary |

Community, congregation celebrate Mayfield’s 20th anniversary

SUMMIT COUNTY – There are a number of words used to describe Rich Mayfield, pastor of Lord of the Mountains Lutheran Church in Dillon – including “dedicated,” “passionate,” “teacher,” “leader,” “friend” and “inspiration.”

“He sets an example for me,” said 14-year-old Madelaine Child. As her pastor, Mayfield not only has taught Child about church and religion but also how to be a better person, she said.

“I feel like you can tell him anything and he understands,” she said.

Mayfield celebrated his 20th anniversary this weekend – both with the church and in Summit County. Child was one of about 50 people who gathered at the Summit County Community and Senior Center Sunday to recognize Mayfield’s contribution to his congregation and the community.

Raised in Los Angeles, Mayfield earned his undergraduate degree at Pepperdine University before going to the University of Nebraska for graduate work in theater. Mayfield left the University of Nebraska before earning his master’s degree and spent the next eight years in television and film production. He was in his late 20s when he went to the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. – with the intent of combining theology and film.

By the time he completed seminary in 1979, however, Mayfield had decided he “just wanted to be a parish priest,” he said.

And he has no regrets.

“I don’t think I would change anything,” Mayfield said. “It’s been a delightful run, and I look forward to years to come.”

Mayfield spent three years as pastor in a church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before coming to Summit County and Lord of the Mountains in 1983.

A lot has changed in 20 years, including Lord of the Mountains. As the county has grown, so has the church’s congregation – from little more than 100 to about 600 members, Mayfield said.

“The congregation is very different than it was 20 years ago,” he said. “That makes it exciting and interesting.”

Mayfield is especially proud of the church’s role in the community.

“We’ve become very much a part of the community,” he said, adding that the church also performs charitable work around the world.

Each Christmas, church members travel to Juarez, Mexico, to build homes for the poor, Mayfield said. One delegation recently went to Peru to build a women’s shelter, and another leaves in May to build a library for a high school in Peru.

It’s not only Mayfield’s congregation that’s active in the community, but the pastor himself. He writes a weekly opinion column for the Summit Daily News and has worked with several local nonprofits.

“He makes an incredible contribution to the community,” said Jennifer Pratt Miles, who worked with Mayfield for Shaping Our Summit, a nonprofit that closed in 2001.

Being pastor is more than a full-time job – it’s like being constantly on-call, Mayfield said. But he doesn’t have any complaints, because the position comes with rewards.

“The privilege has been being a part of people’s lives in times of great joy and times of tragedy,” he said. “People have opened their homes and their hearts to me.”

It is evident Mayfield has had a tremendous impact on the lives of those in his congregation.

“Rich is a very special person,” said church member Terri Thorn. “He makes my life complete, being a part of the congregation.”

“When somebody asks, “Who’s influenced your life?’ It’s Pastor Rich,” said Sandy Reetz, president of the church council. “He has been a teacher. He’s been a confidant, a friend, a leader.”

Mayfield is both a role model and a moral leader for Summit County, said Frisco resident, Jack Nyquist, who often attends Mayfield’s services. “He embraces a wide collection of people and thinking. We’re lucky to have him.”

Several people said they appreciate Mayfield’s ability to challenge them to think outside the box and look at the world from a new perspective.

“He challenges us to think about our relationship with each other, our relationship with God and our relationship in the community,” said Bill Kyrioglou, a part-time Silverthorne resident.

“He challenges people on difficult issues – helps us get beyond our comfort zones and look at things different ways,” said church member Peggy Hiller. “He does that with our congregation, but I think he does that with our community, too.”

“I, personally, really appreciate having Rich in the community and I’d love it if he stayed another 20 years,” Pratt Miles said.

When asked if there is a typical age for pastors to retire, Mayfield joked, “I think it’s when you start drooling from the pulpit.”

Whether or not Mayfield will be holding Sunday services 20 years from now, it’s likely he and his wife, Sue, still will be in Summit County.

“We hope to spend the rest of our lives here,” he said.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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