“By June, I’ll have been here longer than any other pastor. I get a set of steak knives,” Ault said and laughed as he and church members John Moore and Judith Glenn conducted a tour of the church recently.
In 1960, 20 Sedonans established The Church of the Red Rocks. About half of them came from Wayside Chapel.
“Only two of the original 20 are still here. Ann Jackson was a Jordan and she came with her husband, Bob, and Patty Fox is still very active,” Moore said.
The congregation will celebrate its 50th anniversary with concerts, special events and speakers throughout the year.
“All of our anniversary events will be free to the public as a gift to Sedona,” Moore said.
As part of the celebrations, the church commissioned a Jubilee Quilt from nationally-known quilter Eunice Hill. It was dedicated Dec. 6 and hangs in the large meeting hall. In the center is a depiction of the wooden cross that adorns the altar in the sanctuary.
“Someone found that piece of wood while hiking on this property. It’s been here nearly as long as the church,” Moore said.
The first full-time pastor, Rev. Paul Babbitt, challenged the congregation with, “It is an awesome thing to build a church, but let us expect great things from God.” Construction began in December 1963.
In the early 1970s the Rev. Perry Avery led the group and encouraged them to “live with their diversities in love.”
From 1973 until 1983, the Rev. Alice Snow began her ministry during which the congregation grew to nearly 500 members.
The congregation today has more than 500 members, a church with a sanctuary, meeting rooms, offices and a large kitchen on top of a hill overlooking Oak Creek.
“Since Rev. Ault has been here we’ve seen our community outreach increase, our programs expanded and a long-range plan for our future,” Glenn said.
The Church of the Red Rocks built a music program through support and a venue for many artists.
“Our church has always been a great supporter of the arts,” Glenn said.
Continuing to grow, the church dedicated a new Life Long Learning and Leadership Center in 2008.
Ault’s anniversary will be honored at a Sunday of Appreciation in June. His path to the ministry began through a church camp program.
Ault first served as an intern to the Rev. Roy Grazier for one year, while he finished seminary.
After graduation Ault went out on his own. His first church was north of Philadelphia, his second was in the city. After he served there for a few years, Ault went to Mt. Clemens, Mich., and then Sedona.
What Ault likes best about being a minister is the changes he sees in people as they progress in their faith.
“I love seeing them come closer to the Lord and having their lives enriched,” Ault said.
Moore and Glenn added their comments.
“I think one of the things people really like about George [Ault] is his ability to live with the people and become part of their lives,” Glenn said.
Moore said when Ault baptizes a child he does not just hand the child back to the parents.
“He brings them around and introduces him or her to the other parishioners,” Moore said.
The next celebration at the church is a vocal and instrumental recital of Mozart’s “A Little Night Music,” Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m.
For more information, call 282-7963.