Christ’s Church of Fountain Hills’ founder Don Lawrence leaves his position of senior pastor Jan. 31 after serving the spiritual needs of the congregation and the community since 1984.
Although he will turn over the church keys to pastor Trent Renner, Lawrence said he and his wife, Lisa, will continue as members in the church where his two daughters, Andrea and Michelle, and two grandsons, Caleb and Jacob, are involved. Both grandsons attend Promiseland pre-school on the campus.
“After 33 years, most of our friends are members here,” Lawrence said. “Lisa and I didn’t want to walk away from that.”
Lisa is founder and owner of aspen systems, Inc., a software company of 53 employees for food processors and distributors.
In an interview reviewing his ministry and community service, Lawrence said he intentionally has not mapped out the next chapter in his life, preferring to focus on his ministerial commitment until his resignation becomes effective.
“I don’t have any definite plan…I did not want to start looking at other things because I wanted to stay focused on my job responsibilities here,” he said.
During his tenure he led mission trips to foreign countries – at least a dozen to South America alone – and thinks he most likely will devote time to mission ministry.
“Some other things have caught my eye and I will pursue them afterwards,” he added.
Living in Arizona since he was 12 years old, Lawrence attended Moon Valley High School and studied at Glendale Community College for two years. He earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Pacific Christian College in Fullerton, CA, and was ordained into the ministry at First Christian Church, Phoenix, in 1978.
He helped create Christ’s Church of the Valley, Phoenix, where he served two years as youth pastor for two years. Arizona Evangelistic Association contacted him to start a new church.
“They were looking at three locations: Ahwatukee, Carefree and Fountain Hills,” recalled Lawrence.
He spent a couple of days in each location, visiting with individuals and talking to ministers. He recommended Fountain Hills and told the Evangelistic Association officials that if they concurred, he would agree to become the pastor.
He said he saw an untapped potential in Fountain Hills for a ministry focused on children, teens and family-oriented ministry. Christ’s Church’s worship service with contemporary music reflects the congregation demographics. “And that’s by design.”
“It has always been one of our priorities over the years. It’ sort of in our DNA that we have been Bible-based. It has done us well.”
The church also has a “healthy senior adult ministry,” said Lawrence. “The older Christians, my age, understand why we do what we do. The ones who don’t have found other good churches in the traditional style.”
During the winter season, Sunday attendance is close to 400 and drops to about 300 during the summer months. Actual membership numbers about 550.
During his ministry, Lawrence has been active and past coordinator of the Fountain Hills Interfaith Ministerial Association.
He served on the town council for five years, including one term as vice mayor. He coached Little League and youth soccer. He was past president of Noon Kiwanis.