Payson has only two roads into town, but the routes its residents have taken to get here are as varied as each individual — regardless of how long the Rim Country has been their home.
The path that brought the Rev. Glenn Zimbelman and his wife, Janice, to Mount Cross Lutheran Church started in the Milwaukee area 27 years ago and most recently passed through Ohio, west of Cleveland.
The Zimbelmans were called to Ohio to “plant a church” — start a church from scratch. The services were held in a warehouse, informal and media driven.
“We worked with the ‘de-churched’ and those who had never had a church home,” Glenn said.
Janice holds a doctorate in neuroscience and worked in rehabilitation research with the Veterans Admini-stration but, more and more, she found herself working with Glenn in his ministry and in time she said she felt she was called to the ministry herself.
“We decided we needed to find a church where we could work together as a team,” Janice said.
The couple took a year “discerning where we were at and where to go. Her parents lived in Mesa and were getting older and we wanted to be nearer to them. We were also tired of the snow,” Glenn said.
He submitted his resume to the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and in May 2011 the Zimbelmans came to Payson.
As Glenn leads the congregation, Janice is a volunteer.
“My strengths are teaching and organizing. Glenn is a visionary, generating ideas and getting things started, but not so much of an implementer,” Janice said.
“She does the developing, planning and mentoring. We really complement each other,” Glenn said.
Among the new programs the Zimbelmans have instituted since arriving at Mount Cross are a discipleship plan to grow people in the depth of their faith; Practices of Faith classes; Prayer 101 to help develop a daily prayer time; how to read the Bible daily; and small group monthly meetings in which the members pray and study together, have fellowship and support one another.
With the new year, they will be bringing a new worship service that they are calling “Exalt” to Mount Cross.
It will be energized with Christian rock music, media driven for those “not wired for traditional church” with food and a special welcome for young families and young people.
Glenn said the new service is part of the plan to get the entire congregation to reach out into the community.
“As long as there is someone who doesn’t have a relationship with Christ, we have work to do,” he said.