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New religious leaders put faith in community

Despite belonging to different faiths, two of Boulder City’s newest pastors have some things in common. They both answered the call to ministry later in life and they both want to invest in the local community.

The Rev. Michael Eaton took over as pastor of Boulder City United Methodist Church on July 1. He worked as a software developer for Honeywell before going to seminary and being ordained in 1991.

The Rev. Ron Zanoni, who became the pastor at St. Andrew Catholic Community in August, moved to Nevada in 1982 for a job at Nevada Power, now NV Energy. He worked there for 17 years before starting seminary in 1999 and then being ordained in 2005.

Zanoni said he first thought he was being called to be a priest when he was a child.

“My theory was it was always there, I just forgot,” he said.

Zanoni said he grew up in the Catholic church when he lived in California but didn’t start attending again until after moving to Southern Nevada. Once he returned to the church, the idea of becoming a priest came back.

“I think the circumstances of our lives and your sense of who you are … play into where you think God is leading you,” he said. “I just couldn’t ignore it anymore.”

Eaton said he did not grow up in the church and his path to becoming a Methodist pastor started after he and a girlfriend broke up. He said he admired her mindset and spirit and wanted that for his life.

“I said, ‘God if you exist, help me have faith.’”

Eaton said he started attending a Methodist church and was challenged about whether he was simply admiring Jesus or following him. He said he realized he wanted to follow him and decided to join the church. He was baptized on his 25th birthday and started becoming more involved until one day he decided to do more.

“I think I’m feeling a call to ministry,” he said.

So Eaton went to seminary, was ordained and then spent approximately 20 years pastoring in Arizona for the Southern Desert Conference before moving to Boulder City.

“I like that it’s a small community. … It’s quiet,” he said.

Eaton and Zanoni have plans to engage the community. One way is through Boulder City’s chapter of Nevadans for the Common Good. Both St. Andrew and BCUMC are part of the chapter and they are working with the group on its projects and endeavours. They are also working to build relationships within their congregations and among the different faiths in town.

“Because of the small size, some of the lines between faiths are more open,” Zanoni said. “Everybody is invited to everything. It’s really a sign of great hospitality.”

“For me, community is important,” added Eaton.

As pastor of BCUMC he said he wants to spend his first year establishing relationships with and getting to know the people in the congregation.

“The congregation is a wonderful congregation whose hearts are open to everybody,” he said. “I appreciate the work Sandy (Johnson) did. I’m standing on the foundation of her work.”

Boulder City United Methodist Church meets at the Elaine K. Smith building, 700 Wyoming St. The worship service is at 10 a.m., with an adult Bible study at 8:45 a.m. and children’s Sunday school at 10:30 a.m.

St. Andrew Catholic Community, 1399 San Felipe Drive, has communion Mass at 8 a.m. on Tuesdays and daily Mass at 8 a.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Sunday Mass is held at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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