By Beverly Arrendell
Special to The PREVIEW
“Wherever I have served, I have always had a heart for the community,” said the Rev. Leighton William Mekeal.
He began serving as pastor of Community United Methodist Church here in Pagosa Springs on July 1. Because CUMC has always been a major contributor in helping this community, Mekeal is a great fit for his new assignment.
Serving as a minister for some 25 years, Mekeal’s previous pastorates have included Dove Creek, Dolores, Limon and Grand Junction. Before being appointed to Pagosa, Mekeal served for 10 years in Greeley.
Both he and his wife, Susan (nickname Susy), have spent most of their lives in Colorado. As a toddler, he moved with his family from Kansas; Susy was born in Colorado. The two met in Westminster United Methodist Church in Denver when they were children. Today, both their fathers are deceased; both mothers still live in Denver and the two ladies have lunch together every Sunday.
The Mekeals’ college allegiance is different, though. He is a graduate of the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is a graduate of Colorado State in Fort Collins.
Mekeal’s education for the pastorate was completed at Perkins School of Theology on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Mekeal’s hobbies are most fitting for the Pagosa area. He is an avid fisherman and he also loves to play golf. In fact, one church member entered Mekeal in a golf tournament within the first two weeks of his arrival. Both he and his wife enjoy mountain biking.
During his years in Greeley, through his church, he was active in working with immigrants from Somalia who were employed by a local business. He found the Muslims from Somalia to be hospitable, gracious and caring people. The same was true when he and his wife spent time in Morocco while their daughter was a foreign exchange student there.
“Whenever we got lost, people of all ages were more than gracious in helping us find our way back to our compound,” he said.
In addition to his pastoral duties, in previous pastorates, one request he heard frequently from families was a call for assistance; he often acted as mediator in issues that seemed difficult for families to resolve.
The Mekeals have two grown children who have already completed college: a married son who lives with his wife in Dallas and a daughter who lives in Denver.
One of Mekeal’s talents he has enjoyed for years is his ability to be a storyteller. As a parent, he often told stories about his family members to his young children. Some of his favorite stories to tell are about his Grandfather Howell and also about his great-aunt Becky, who was a spinster living in Colorado Springs. She never learned to drive and never owned a car. Today, his son and daughter question the veracity of his family stories, but they both enjoyed the tales.
“Years ago, when we drove from the Dolores area to Denver to visit our families, we often passed through Pagosa. We enjoy recalling those times now that we are residents of this scenic Rocky Mountain town,” Mekeal said.