First Methodist welcomes associate pastor

The First United Methodist Church of Cortez has announced that Pastor Norman Mark will be serving the community as an associate pastor through a United Methodist Conference Native American Ministries Grant.

Pastor Mark is already a licensed local pastor in the Methodist Church and has been serving churches on the Navajo Reservation in Utah and New Mexico with the Four Corners Native American Ministry.

He served 19 years at Diiwozhii Bikool United Methodist Church in Utah.

He lives in Hatch, Utah. He, his wife Rebecca, and family members have been attending the Cortez church for several months and consulting with Pastor Tom Towns. Pastor Mark has eight children and 15 grandchildren.

As a child, Pastor Mark grew up on the Navajo Reservation and was taken away from his family and sent to boarding school.

When he graduated from high school, he joined the U.S. military. Returning home, he opened his own auto body and mechanic shop in Utah.

Pastor Mark also serves as chaplain for the Southeastern Utah Dine Veterans Organization on the reservation.

Over the years he has searched for a blend of his Navajo traditions with Christianity. When Methodist work groups visited the reservation he became interested in Methodism.

He studied the works of John Wesley and concluded, “The church appreciates my tradition. I don’t have to be hiding. I live it. I came to be as helpful in any way that I can.”

Pastor Mark’s job as a supply pastor includes office hours at the First United Methodist Church, 515 North Park St., Cortez, on Thursdays. He will also help with the liturgy of the Sunday service, and perhaps in the future will provide leadership at a Saturday evening service for the San Juan Cooperative Parish.

His hope in working with the San Juan Cooperative Parish will be to reach out to other Native Americans and make them feel welcome in the church.

The next step toward full ordination for Pastor Mark is to complete the 20 courses required of anyone who wishes to serve as a pastor of the United Methodist Church.

Mark said, “I’m not to the point where I could confidently administer a church as a Methodist minister. I can interpret the Bible in English and Navajo. I look forward to a time when I can lead my own congregation.”

Until then he plans to continue to serve others through his auto body/mechanic business.

The Cortez church will be welcoming Pastor Mark on Sunday, Sept. 1.

Pastor Tom Towns invites the community to attend a special service on Sept. 1 at 10 a.m., or to stop by on Thursday at the church to visit or consult with Pastor Mark.

For more information, contact Pastor Mark or Pastor Tom at the Cortez United Methodist Church at 565-3002.