Charles Wilcox knew he was meant to be a pastor as an 18 year old, but it took years of rejecting the church before he finally accepted the calling.
Today, Wilcox stands behind the pulpit at Tonto Village Chapel.
Wilcox became a Christian when he was 10 years old. He felt called to preach at 18 and attended East Texas Baptist College.
But he struggled with academics and became discouraged.
When his father died, discouragement and rebelliousness overcame him, Wilcox said.
"I did the typical thing and said, ‘I don't want to be in church with all these hypocrites' -- but I was the biggest hypocrite," he said.
He went through a long time feeling he had let himself, God and his family down. He even drank for a bit, but knew that would create more problems than it solved.
"God used many of my friends and family as examples to bring me back to my faith," Wilcox said. "When my son, Greg, was baptized it got me headed back."
He met his current wife, Brenda, while they were both living in Benson.
They were married Sept. 26, 1980.
"I adopted her children and she adopted mine," he said.
"We drove Cochise County crazy because they had never done a double adoption," Brenda said.
They each had a daughter and a son.
"We wanted to do it that way because it meant as much to her children as it did to mine that we were a family," Wilcox said.
Life went on for the Wilcoxes and upon his retirement as a plant operator from El Paso Natural Gas the family moved to the Valley.
"God opened the door for me again," he said.
"I was not surprised when he wanted to become a preacher," Brenda said.
Wilcox began preaching at a Navajo mission in Fruitland, N.M. in September 1996.
After 15 months with the New Mexico church, the Wilcox family moved to Arizona. With the move, Wilcox was able to attend Golden State Seminary in Scottsdale.
He became pastor of the Roosevelt Baptist Church from April 2003 until November 2005.
He stepped down and moved to Payson in 2005 for the people, the climate and Brenda's career as a certified nursing assistant.
Wilcox recently took over the pulpit at Tonto Village Chapel. The couple calls it a "community-oriented church.
"We would like to invite all the people of Tonto Village and the outlying areas to worship with us."
Sunday worship is at 9 a.m., Sunday schools for children and adults are at 10:15 a.m. and Bible study is at 6 p.m. each Thursday.
The chapel is located at 711 W. Haught Ave. in Tonto Village.
Pastor Charles Wilcox can be reached by calling (928) 472-4503.
-- To reach Carol La Valley call 474-5251 ext. 122 or e-mail email@example.com.