Colusa pastor leaving after 32 years at Presbyterian Church

After calling Colusa their home for more than 32 years, Tom and Debra Tripp are starting the next chapter in their lives, and are headed to Arizona.

Tripp, known to many in Colusa as Pastor Tom, said he is to be the new pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Sun City.

“It’s an opportunity to be a little bit closer to my daughter,” Tripp said. “Three of my four grandchildren live in Arizona, so it was an opportunity to be closer to them and to start a new way. I would love to see somebody younger come to the Presbyterian Church in Colusa, and I get the chance to kind of be the young person on the block in this retirement kind of community of Sun City.”

Tripp came to Colusa to become the pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in July 1986. He and Debra raised their children here, all three of whom graduated from Colusa High School.

“It seemed like a good church that I was excited to be a part of, and I’ve been glad to have been a part of that church for all these years,” Tripp said. “(Colusa) was a wonderful place to raise our kids, and to be involved in school, sports activities at school, government activities at school – all those kinds of things.”

Colusa also afforded Tripp plenty of opportunities to get involved in the community himself, he said.

He made the most of those opportunities over the years: Tripp has been a regular fixture at morning basketball at the high school, participated in a number of musicals with Stagehands, been a soccer coach and referee, a volunteer tutor at Egling Middle School, where he helped students learn to read, a weekly columnist in this publication, and so much more. He was also involved in Young Life and spent many Easter breaks building houses with the kids in the program, which Tripp said was always a fun experience.
“To be part of a church that was trying to reach out in meaningful ways to bring Christ’s love to the Colusa community, and trying to meet needs and be there for people – that was a wonderful part of it as well,” Tripp said.

But Tripp was more than just a part of it – he led by example.

“He is so, so incredibly compassionate, and he’s a wonderful teacher as far as bible studies,” said Doris Zoller, who attends the Presbyterian Church. “He has a way about him that is just so kind and loving. He has this incredible ability to remember everyone’s names and make everyone feel special. He is a man of God. He walked the walk and talked the talk.”

Compassion and care for other people is exactly what Tripp hoped to bring to the ministry he was involved in, and all of the other things he did in the community, he said.

“I really appreciate the compassion of Jesus Christ – His care for all people,” Tripp said. “One thing I always hoped to try to do was… to kind of paint a little bit more of a heart for compassion within people – to hopefully build that up in people. That’s what I would kind of hope that Colusa would continue forth with – a compassionate care for all people.”

Tripp’s presence will be sorely missed, Zoller said, and not just in the church.

“The whole community is going to feel it… If there was someone in need that he heard about, that he thought would benefit from his counseling and comfort, he was there… It’s a sad time for our church. He’s been here almost 32 years, but we wish them the best on their new adventure,” Zoller said.

This Sunday, June 17, will be Tripp’s last day as the pastor in Colusa. The church will host a going away party of sorts – an open house at the Presbyterian Church’s Social Hall – on Sunday afternoon from 2-5 PM. Organizers are encouraging any and all community members to stop in – including those who know Tripp from outside the church.

“We encourage all the public who’d like to come to do so; church will be providing desserts,” Zoller said.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net