1600 Mangrove Ave., #177 Chico, CA
Name: Jim Peck
Call him: Jim or Pastor Jim
Came to New Vision: May, 2008
Stops on the journey: "I was born in North Carolina, raised in Atlanta, Georgia, which is the place I call home. College in Georgia and central New York. Back to Atlanta, then Denver, then St. Paul, Minnesota for seminary. Austin, Minnesota for my first church, and now fabulous Chico, California! All four time zones!"
Best thing about being a pastor: Listening to the stories of so many different, interesting people.
Enjoys: Music, photography, a good road trip, long visits to museums, reading, quirky movies, and baseball games.
What he wants you to know: “My decision to follow Jesus, which was made when I was 13, is the only decision I have never second-guessed.”
Jim Peck is the pastor and teacher at New Vision United Church of Christ in Chico. He arrived in Chico in May, 2008, after serving a church in southern Minnesota. Within a few months, he felt completely at home in our beautiful north-state community.
Jim enjoys being a pastor. He spends time in preparing his Sunday messages so they speak to the concerns of 21st Century people. He loves to listen as people tell stories of their own journey with God. He enjoys the arts – photography and architecture are his favorites. He enjoys almost all kinds of music and loves to sing. He enjoys reading, especially regional fiction and mysteries. He has been a follower of Jesus since he was 13. “My decision to follow Jesus is the only decision I’ve ever made that I do not second-guess,” he says.
Raised Baptist in the Atlanta suburbs, Pastor Jim first joined the United Church of Christ in while in college, and rejoined in 1985. Prior to ministry, Pastor Jim worked in public administration and government, including four years on the staff of Governor Roy Romer of Colorado. His B. A. is from Mercer University in Georgia, in urban studies, and he studied city and regional planning at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. His Master of Divinity is from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1999. He received two awards at United upon graduation, one for church leadership and one for excellence in work in theology and the arts.
“Faith stories are a primary source for inspiration for artists throughout the world,” he notes. “A work of art does not have to be explicitly religious to communicate something spiritually meaningful. And the very act of creating, I believe, is rooted in being made in the image of God, the Creator.”
In addition to serving New Vision United Church of Christ, Pastor Jim is active with the Stonewall Alliance Center. In 2010, the Gender and Sexuality Equity Center, a student organization at Chico State, presented him the first Harvey Milk Award for Lifetime Advocacy for LGBT persons. He has served as president of the board of a nonprofit housing organization. He attends almost every Chico City Council meeting, to keep an eye on our elected officials.
He sees all those activities as part of his work as a pastor and teacher. “Jesus does not expect us to keep our faith a secret. I appreciate that my church allows me to share my time with so many community groups.”
More than anything else, Pastor Jim enjoys meeting people and hearing their stories. “I look forward to meeting you.”
Progressive Christians value what we learn from reading and studying the Bible. We take the Bible too seriously to take it literally. We consider the Bible an inexhaustible resource for understanding our relationship with God, other people, and ourselves.
Progressive Christians are open to what we can learn from other sources of knowledge about the world around us, about the people around us, and about our own lives.
We include knowledge from science, history, current events, and the arts in our faith journey. We do not expect everyone to think or believe alike.
Although our faith is over 2000 years old, our thinking is not.
Questions don't frighten progressive Christians. We do not have the answers to every question. We encourage people to think and explore matters of faith for themselves. We give people a great deal of freedom. Actually, we get kind of annoyed when Christians who are more conservative than we are talk like they have all the answers.
We believe it is better to do this kind of thinking and exploring with other people, in a community, than to do it alone. We believe God is still speaking in many ways, including in the sharing we do with each other about matters of faith.
Since it was organized on July 26, 1955, New Vision United Church of Christ, has welcomed people who are seeking an informed, vibrant, growing relationship with God and their neighbors. Our first name was Community Congregational Church. Then we were known as the Congregational Church of Chico. We adopted our current name in 2012.
Ken Peterson, a Congregational minister, arrived in Chico in the fall of 1954 to begin organizing a new church. The growing university town seemed just right for the kind of Christian faith that Congregationalism represents – open to ideas, valuing learning and education, welcoming to all people who are seeking to know God.
In less than a year, over 50 people had affiliated with the new church and it was officially organized. They signed the Charter Roll for the Community Congregational Church of Chico, which hangs today in the worship area of our building. The church built two buildings at the corner of East First Avenue and Downing. We sold that property in 2014 and moved to our current location at 1600 Mangrove Avenue. We have had seven pastors.
We became part of the United Church of Christ in 1961 not long after it was formed in 1957. The UCC brought together two churches, the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church. You can learn more about the story of the UCC at www.ucc.org.
Congregationalism is a way of being Christian that dates back to 1611 in England, when the first Congregational church was organized. New Vision is a Congregational church historically and in the way we are organized. A Congregational church makes its own decisions, owns its own building, and chooses its own pastor and teacher. In US History, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock and Thanksgiving fame, were Congregationalists. The United Church of Christ continues these aspects of being a church. In the United Church of Christ, Jesus Christ is the sole head of the church.
Our covenant commits us “to journey together.” We put a high value on the journey, and on being together, on being companions on our journey to know God and each other. We would like to be companions for you, too, on your journey of faith.