Rincon Valley Cowboy Church has big plans

By Lucy Oliver | Jun 22, 2021

Tucson native Joe Grizzle has had an unmistakable call on his life to start a church plant.

In pursuit of that calling, he sought out the education and support necessary to prepare for such an important endeavor. As he was waiting on the Lord for a specific location to start a church, an established, local congregation called needing help with short-term interim leadership, and he stepped in to help.

Now, 7 1/2 years later, Rincon Valley Cowboy Church in Vail — the church he agreed to serve as interim leader — has claimed his heart and it has been his home church ever since. A self-described country boy, he says he has been very pleased to serve as the cowboy church’s lead pastor and worship leader.

He laughs as he says astonishingly, “I grew up a metalhead. And here I am a pastor, playing my guitar and singing in cowboy church. That’s my testimony! God loves to use us messy kids to His glory.”

Raised on a ranch and married to Christy, an honest-to-goodness cowgirl, Ray McCraw joined the ministry of the church to feel at home. He and his wife were received as missing members of the family. McCraw is the associate pastor.

“We fell in love with the gracious, loving, caring people and with Pastor Joe and his wife, Linda,” he said.

Rincon Valley Cowboy Church has been leasing space at Christ Lutheran Vail Church for the past few years while praying for the Lord to make a way for the cowboy church to find their own space to build a sanctuary. They also needed land to have an arena in which to hold rodeo days, which they have successfully hosted in past years at a rented ranch.

After a lengthy and meticulous search, they found the perfect property.

“There are no churches for five miles in any direction around the over-nine-acre property we found to build on,” Grizzle said. He laughed and added excitedly, “So, this is how God gave me my church plant!”

For Grizzle and McCraw, the sense of being where God wants them to be is strong.

“We wanted to meet the needs of the rural people in the area,” McCraw said. “God led us here.”

Church planting is a missions activity that takes unity. One look at these cowboy pastors and their dedicated congregation on the undeveloped property at sunrise last Easter — all praising the Lord for the new thing He is doing — and you know they have the true grit to get the job done.

Church planting is an undertaking that comes with large investments of prayer, people, time, effort and money. One blessing from the Arizona Mission Offering is grants for sites or buildings for church plants.

Rincon Valley Cowboy Church was a 2020 recipient of a $20,000 grant to help with the expenses of professionally paving the new county road and parking lot for their future building and arena.

This support and assistance from fellow believers by way of the offering and grant has Grizzle energized. They went from meeting in his driveway to planning how to pave a new road and big driveway to their future building.

“I am so excited and so grateful for what God is doing in people and through people and in and through this church!” he says.

Lucy Oliver, a freelance writer living in Tucson, is a member of North Swan Baptist Church, Tucson.

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