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June 6, 2012     The Adams County Record
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June 6, 2012
 

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Page 10 Wednesday, June 6, 2012 The Adams County Record Community Spotlight "I'm the white sheep of the family;' Pastor Geoff Cole of the Council Valley Assembly of God likes to explain. The fire of commitment and the warmth of compassion burn in his dark brown eyes. A touch of wry humor curls his smile. At the recent candidate debates he challenged the sheriff's department to return ministry to the Adams County Jail. He has become a spokesperson for the black sheep, and a leadership builder for the community. Pastors come to church leadership through widely varied pathways. Geoff wound through life living many men's lives. He's the "everyman;' the Forrest Gump of Council, ending up in myriad places with important people through flukes of opportunities. He says he's had breakfast with Newt Gingrich, and met Oliver North while serving in Honduras. In the infantry he served under Brian Haig, son of former Secretary of State's Alexander Haig, at Fort Carson, Colorado. "I was even invited to the White House once" he continued. Now besides being pastor he's the Deputy Coroner for Adams County under Sue Warner. His family moved to old Mexico when he was in 7 th grade, where his father's factory made paint and nail polish. "It was a rough place to raise kids;' he remembered. Geoff worked 10-hour days for $4 a day when he wasn't in school, but he couldn't stay out of trouble. At 16, after being shipped to relatives in Florida he ran away, ending up in Hollywood. By 18 he'd lived in several worlds. He'd worked as a lab technician a n d production worker in Mexico, a n d labored in farm work and construction. He learned apprentice carpentry on Hollywood sets, and worked as a Foley artist on the movie Rolling Thunder, starring Tommy Lee Jones. A Foley replaces sounds previously recorded during filming. Pastor Geoff and Judy Cole Journeys to Leadership Geoff and his friend were European, and his deeper hired to remake the bar awareness of the world scene vocals because of gave him international their fluent Spanish. flair. It made an easy Finally he returned conversation starter for home and entered college. Judy, and they've never At Ball State University lost their appeal in 32 in Muncie, Indiana, city years of marriage. of the Ball Glass Works Judy's parents had fled Judy, Isaac and Geoff Cole. Company, he taught a hypnosis class and worked as an ice cream man. Best of all he met Judy. "It was love at first sight;' Judy said. "I could tell he was different from the rest:' She noticed from the way he handled his silverware that his parents were from the oppression of communism during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956. They were skilled tradesmen, and asked to go wherever there was work, immigrating to Munster, Indiana where they live today. As their only child, Judy learned fluent Hungarian. As a young adult, she attended Ball State University for secretarial courses. Judy and Geoff were enthralled with Idaho after they read about Boise in National Geographic magazine in 1979. They packed everything in their VW van and headed west When a van breakdown stranded them in Iowa for two months, they lost everything and had to drag back home. G e o ff joined the Army for 4 years, and they finally made it to Boise 5 years later. Joining the military seemed logical. Geoff's ancestors had served since the Franco Prussian War. He gained the rank of infantry sergeant, earning two commendation medals. During his service he spent 4 months training contra rebels in Honduras. The rest of his service in Fort Carson was spent under Brian Haig, where Geoff saw the strength of inspirational leadership. "He was the finest officer I ever knew;' said Geoff. As a restitution officer at Canyon County Juvenile Probation for 10 years, and as an adult probation officer for Owyhee County for 2 years, Geoff grieved for those who had wandered off course in life. He stepped into his pastor's shoes at age 40. "God had been calling me for a long time;' he admitted. "But I'd been running away" The calling came from the Wilder Crossroads Assembly of God Church, where he taught Sunday school. He pastored there for 5 years. "The Assembly of God churches are a cooperative fellowship, not a denomination;' he explained. "They are all sovereign, and can go their own way, but will aid each other as needed." The Fundamentalist AG churches stand by their Statements of Fundamental Truths, a 16 point doctrine based on strong beliefs By Deb Wilson in evangelizing the lost through salvation and baptism. As a pastor he still managed to stir up trouble when he posted his anti- Islamic sign at the Wilder Church following the 9-11 attack. He held firmly to his scriptural beliefs and the First Amendment in spite of public controversy. The Council Assembly of God Church offered him the pastor position in 2003. At the same time he faced the terrible unknown of cancer surgery, and accepting the position required faith for him and the church. Fortunately, he recovered and started in October, moving to Council the next year. A helpful partner for her pastor husband, Judy appreciates the simpler life of a small community. She milks her cow, raises chickens, sells eggs, and enjoys gardening. She dabbles in tole painting and quilting and knows how to get the best out of her camera. "What I do is done with love and service for my family," she acknowledged. They've parented two wonderful boys. Christopher, 31, attends the Boulder Art Institute in Colorado. Isaac, an upcoming sophomore at Council High School, is their joy and blessing they waited years for with the confidence of faith. "We feel privileged to have him;' said Judy. "He was a promised child" Gegff and Judy love this community, where "even the bad people are good people;' they said. He's just fine being 2 hours from the nearest Walmart. They lead their church in the direction of "unconditional love;' sponsoring the pioneer and volunteer activities of the young boys' group the Royal Rangers. Geoff leads The Power and Light Company, a church- sponsored drug and alcohol recovery support group. The church gave away 500 turkeys one year, and has given free oil changes for single women. Baptisms in the Weiser River at Ashley's Bridge highlight their faith. Volunteerism highlights their community commitment. "There's no way to measure your success except through changed lives;' Geoff said. "We're all in this together, and we have to step up: