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Pastor serves faiths in Madera

For The Madera Tribune

Jim and Kathy Garrison.


Jim and Kathy Garrison moved to Madera from Los Banos, CA, in June 2021. Jim was appointed to become the pastor at Madera and Le Grand United Methodist Churches in July 2021. He served both churches until the end of 2021, and is now full-time pastor in Madera.

“Coming to Madera feels like coming home,” said Garrison, who was raised in the Central Valley. He grew up in Caruthers, where his family farmed. When he was seven, they moved to Fresno, and there he graduated from Bullard High School. He went on to Fresno State, and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in Spanish.

“My nudges toward ministry started in my teens,” he said. “I accepted Christ as a young teen through the ministry of the church and the campus ministry of Youth for Christ,”

After graduating from Fresno State, Jim then went on to attend Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky. He met Kathy at Asbury, and they married while attending there. Jim earned a Masters of Divinity at Asbury, and Kathy earned Masters of Arts in Religion/Christian Education.

Jim’s first church was in Gage, Oklahoma, a very small town in Kathy’s home state. From there, he went on to pastor a church in Ely, Nevada before coming back to California to serve churches in Dinuba, Sonora, Patterson, Georgetown, Los Banos and Dos Palos.

Jim and Kathy have two daughters, who are both married. Amy lives in Roseville with her husband and two daughters. Cindy lives with her husband in Riverside, California. The family is very close, and all have a love for God and community.

Music is an important part of Jim’s spiritual life. He plays the guitar, banjo, and other instruments, and he has made this a part of the worship services each week, as Jim and Kathy lead together praise songs with the congregation. Jim also enjoys fishing, painting, and tinkering. He has a passion for ministry and people, loves children and his church family. Kathy is an active quilter, and also enjoys music and serving the Lord in volunteer capacity.

Almost immediately upon his arrival in Madera, Jim became involved in the church and the community. He began visiting the sick and distanced people in the congregation. He joined the Madera Ministerial Association, and has become very active in its strong fellowship among the churches in Madera. He has arranged for the United Methodists to be hosting the Community Palm Sunday service in April.

Jim said, “Our congregation, like others, is working to adjust to the constantly changing environment of the pandemic. We are trying to see this as a real opportunity to make some changes that we probably needed anyway to continue to reach people with the life-changing power of God’s Love,”

In Sunday services, Jim tries to keep a good mix of the old traditions and new methods for worship. “We have a big sanctuary with stained glass windows, and we sing traditional hymns with the organ, but we also use guitar and put the lyrics of contemporary songs up on the screens and livestream through Facebook. As the hymn says, ‘and when in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song; ‘twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.’”

Jim enjoys his work as a pastor, and he is a natural, along with his wife, Kathy. Together, they minister beautifully to the congregation of Madera United Methodist Church, and to the community of Madera. Jim says, “I am a pastor because I believe nothing is more important than our relationship with God. I believe the church is vital for us to reach new people, to grow in our discipleship, and to live out our faith in service to our community and the world.”

Sunday services are both in-person and on Facebook at 10 a.m. Madera United Methodist Church, 500 Sunset Avenue, Madera, CA.


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