Profile Remembrances

Rev. Fred Pattison

As Remembered by Marc Wendell

Rev. Fred Pattison was my pastor, mentor and, most importantly, friend since I first walked into his office at Casa del Cristo Evangelical Church in 1991. For context, you should know that at the time I was a junior at Westwood High School in Mesa, AZ (Mormon country), not even 17 years old if memory serves me right. I was a runaway (escapee) from an abusive extended family in Texas, after being orphaned at age 8 after watching my mother die in front of my eyes two months before her 40th birthday. By that young age, I was also a survivor of numerous traumas and injustices including mental and sexual abuse by biological family members, racism and homophobia by both biological and church families in both Roman Catholic and Nazarene traditions (talk about polar opposites). I can only imagine what Fred, a former ultra-conservative Baptist preacher, must of thought of this scrawny olive-skinned teenager with long dark brown hair in a ponytail halfway down his back, wearing my ragged and well-worn The Crucified (Christian Metal Band) t-shirt, skateboard in one hand, backpack in the other, and with my pet iguana Shelby on my shoulder... as I walked up to him having coffee and reading on the patio area of the office. To say that I was a lost, confused, wounded, scared, lonely, frightened, and depressed young half-latino/ half-hispanic kid with a filterless mouth, anti-authoritarian attitude, sarcastic sense of humor, and rough exterior only paints part of the picture. That I was an Honor student with a 4.0 GPA at the top of his class, class president, and Student Council resident who worked and also went to high school full-time concurrently, and yet lived on his own without a parental guardian or being classified a ward of the state helps to paint the rest of the picture. Clearly on the surface, Fred and I appeared to have so very little in common. But when you peek just beneath the surface and looked past arbitrary distinctions such as age, race, cultural background, religious upbringing, political opinions, worldviews and personal opinions we had so very much in common. We shared very similar senses of humor that was often unappreciated or misunderstood by others, political and personal opinions that to many seemed contradictory or counterintuitive but made perfect sense to us... and at the end of the day that's all that really mattered (:-), a deep love for both children, anyone maligned or discriminated against on any kind of basis and animals of all kinds, and most importantly a deep, real, very personal love and reverence for Almighty God, the Alpha and Omega, and Jesus Christ, his True Son, Our Lord and Savior who was and is and always shall be our Everything and for the Holy Spirit in whom we live, and breathe and and in which we have our very being. I quickly learned to love and cherish this profoundly wise, righteous, and anointed man of God who was so deeply loved by many and yet also was very misunderstood and unappreciated by so many others. I recall fondly a bowling team I was once on while Pastor Fred was senior pastor at 'Casa' called the "Holey Rollers"... A passing reference to the accusation many others made to our congregation under Pastor Fred. I wore that label with honor... just as I did when friends and classmates would call me a "Jesus Freak". I honestly can say that I have never known anyone else to have more authority, more credibility, and more simple stage presence than Rev. Fred Pattison. He spoke in a way that resonated to my life, my walk with Christ, my heart, my mind, my sense of humor and political and social worldviews, and most importantly my Spirit. Fred was and always will be my "Pastor"... Because he was so much more than just a "Pastor" to me. He is and always will be in my mind and heart a model of the Love of Christ, a perfectly imperfect and yet forgiven and anointed man of God. He was and is a true testament to the power of perseverence, "sticktoitiveness" as he coined it, and of ever-evolving revelation and insight into the meanings of Scripture. Fred's worldviews, political opinions and Scriptural stances/positions changed many times over the years... And that taught me much. By his example, I saw a very real, human, frail, imperfect person who was truly a saint in my estimation. He never stopped growing, learning, evolving... And he was humble enough to admit when he was wrong even when his positions evolved 360 degrees. I give profound thanksgiving to our Loving Father in Heaven who brought this man of God into my life and who was in many ways a father-figure to me, as was his dearly beloved Joseph, his long-life friend and soul-partner of 39 years and counting. Both of them always watched out for me, defended me, and even protected me from others with less than honorable intentions when I was literally just a child... a minor... under Pastor Fred's flock. I learned much from Pastor Fred... but the most important, life-changing thing I learned from him was that the true choices for me as a reconciled, born-again gay Christian/Jesus Freak is the choice to pick up the Bible and learn and be inspired by those holy pages on a constant basis, the importance of always reading and keeping true to the Holy Word, walking with the Holy Spirit constantly, to always turn the other cheek even when it is painful, to be humble and not so proud to admit when you are wrong... even if it takes you years to figure out, to constantly check our pride and self-centeredness, to always love and forgive when others make it seemingly impossible to do so, to always speak out for injustice and discrimination in all of its many ugly shades. Last, but certainly not least, to always strive to live completely authentic, wholesome, honest meaningful lives... beyond reproach. To always be an example to others of the Love of Christ. And to always love in healthy, wholesome, truly monogomous relationships irregardless of whether it is a same gender or opposite sex pairing. Fred was truly a visionary, a profoundly wise man, and spiritual father and grandfather figure to many... including myself. It is with flowing tears I write this... of both sorrow for his life partner's profound loss of his partner he shared 39+ years with waling side-by-side. Of sorrow from my own sense of profound loss for not being able to see him. But is with also tears of joy for his life, his legacy and the countless lives and souls he helped, transformed, healed, renewed, challenged, shepherded and guided into eternity. I can almost hear Fred and his tambourine praising his Creator and his Savior and his deep bass voice singing... if even off-key... And I can just about see him dancing and running around the gates of heaven rejoicing in his new body. But most importantly, I await the day that he can show me around those streets of gold and show me my mansion and my many loved ones who have gone before me and Fred. "Well done Fred... You truly were a true and faithful servant..." Please save a spot for me. This is not goodbye Freddie... I will see you soon... On the other side. And we shall praise Him forever. Marc Wendell, BSW Galations 2:20

July 20, 2012