Craig Paschal, pastor of the Mancos United Methodist Church, is the town’s 2018 Citizen of the Year. He was selected for his outreach efforts and inclusivity with a wide range of community members.
The Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce gives the award to a community member who has “made this a better place to live and has been a positive role model in the community,” according to chamber’s Director Maggie Goodell.
Paschal will be celebrated at an awards ceremony at the Mancos Visitor Center on March 14 and will serve as grand marshal in the Mancos Days parade at the end of July.
“It’s certainly a real honor to receive it and be recognized, and also very humbling,” he said.
This year marks the 32nd year of the award’s existence. After the chamber collected nominations in the fall, Paschal was selected by a committee led by last year’s Citizen of the Year, music teacher Andrew Saletta.
The chamber received 19 nominations, Saletta said, and Paschal received eight. After a vote, the Methodist pastor was selected as the award recipient.
“It was exciting, when I first read through the nominations,” Saletta said, adding that he enjoyed learning about all the nominees, and “all the wonderful things people are doing for our community.”
Saletta emphasized that Paschal’s nominators heralded from diverse sectors across the community and were not just from his congregation.
Before taking a role with the church, Paschal worked as an English teacher and football coach in Meeker. After joining the ministry, he was assigned to serve in the Mancos United Methodist Church in 2004, where he has been ever since.
“He wears no outward signs of his avocation, but he is a living example of his values and beliefs,” former Mancos Mayor Rachael Marchbanks wrote in an article she wrote on Paschal in 2012. “When he does speak, he speaks with sincerity, confidence and understated authority. People not only listen, but by following his example and his teachings, they too are inspired to institute change.”
Paschal attributed the recognition to his congregation’s outreach efforts to youth and elderly groups and overall work to create an inviting and welcoming environment for the community.
“Trying to confirm and value each person’s inherent worth,” he said.
The nominations referenced his compassion, inclusivity and humility. Several singled out his support of Rosa Sabido, who has taken sanctuary at the Methodist church since 2017, as evidence of his convictions and care for all community members.
“His quiet, steadfast leadership breaks down barriers and encourages respectful consideration of a variety of points of view,” one nominator wrote.
“Pastor Craig will be the first to tell you he is not perfect and that he struggles with the same issues that we all do,” another said. “His humility and integrity and willingness to examine his own failings on the path of self-improvement set a remarkable example for us all to follow.”
One nomination came from a 100-year-old resident at the Valley Inn.
“His weekly visits mean everything to me,” she said. “And others have said how important his regular visits are to them.”
The award ceremony is 5-7 p.m. at the Mancos Valley Visitor Center, 101 E. Bauer Ave. All are welcome to the event, and live music and refreshments will be provided.