Richard Hatfield, counseling pastor atArizonaCommunityChurchinTempe, will be retiring after 54 years of religious service.
Since his start in rural Missouri, Hatfield’s career has taken him around the globe as a pastor, counselor, student minister and creator of renowned Christian organizations.
Hatfield, informally known as “Pastor Richard,” has been a figure in the Valley since the 1980s, when he served as a co-founder of Valley Christian High School.
Hatfield and his fellow founders sought to create a school that created a truly well-rounded student—one equally focused on academics, music and athletics.
The school continues more than 30 years after its conception, and he calls it “fabulous…a dream come true.”
Founding the school emerged as a natural progression for Hatfield, whose love of change and new challenges led him to positions with such organizations as World Venture and Conservative Baptists of America, to name a few.
“A lot of people my age hate change,” he said, “but I love it.”
Among all of his accomplishments, he says his time at Arizona Community Church has been especially rewarding. There he helped establish the church’s counseling ministry, and currently preaches at a senior counseling program, one that attracts up to 100 guests every Sunday.
“Joining the staff at [ACC] in 2001 has been a highlight of my career. This is by far the best staff I have ever served on,” he said.
At ACC, say those with whom he works, Hatfield has established a trust with his fellow Christians by helping them through marital and personal struggles with a combination of psychological and biblical views.
“For me, when a couple in crisis calls me and I can help them through to the other end, that is the most rewarding thing I can do,” he said.
They see it the same way.
“Richard brings a lot of experience; he is extremely well liked and respected here,” said fellow pastor Bill Meiter.
“He’s had a huge impact on our church and his absence will leave a huge hole.”
ACC members need not worry, though. Although Hatfield will be retiring, he will still be around from time to time helping out wherever he’s needed.
With his retirement, Hatfield will continue to work on his book, a Christian counseling guide tentatively titled “Hope and Peace: The Two Keys Every Individual Needs to Get Through a Crisis.”
“Everyone needs hope to get through a crisis, and I think my principles will be acceptable to anyone,” he said.
He also hopes to continue to travel with his wife, Josie, probably venturing around theU.S., although Australia may also be an option.
A farewell reception for Pastor Richard will be held at the church on Sunday, May 20. More information can be found on the church website, www.azcc.org.