Reverend Dr. Randy Mayer, Senior Minister

When Randy began to look for a church to pastor, he and his wife Norma dreamed of being as close to the US/Mexico border as possible. For the past 19 years, Randy has served The Good Shepherd as their Lead Pastor. He has carefully blended his love of church camp and mission work into a very unique ministry of action, compassion, and inclusion of all.

Randy is known in the Santa Cruz Valley as a musician, community organizer and a steady, progressive voice. He is a founding member of most of the border humanitarian groups and seeks to follow and teach about a "God That Is Still Speaking." Randy and Norma reside in Sahuarita with their two boys, a dog, a cat and a yard full of packrats.



Reverend Dr. Rebecca McElfresh, Associate Minister of Pastoral Care and Spiritual Growth

Following a career in education where she taught both children and adults, Rebecca entered the discernment process for ministry in 2016 here at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ.  Late in 2019, she was approved for ordination with the Southwest Conference and was ordained on March 1, 2020 following a call to serve as the Associate Minister for Pastoral Care and Spiritual Growth.


Rebecca and her husband, Jim Armstrong, live in Indianapolis, Indiana during the summer months where some of their children and grandchildren live. Together, they have three children and five grandchildren. Rebecca is an avid lover and supporter of the arts. She enjoys silversmithing, working with clay and painting / mixed media. She is especially passionate about bringing the arts into our spiritual experiences, both individually and collectively in worship.


Amy Dillemuth, Church Administrator

Amy joined the staff of The Good Shepherd in 2006. The congregation made her part of the family very quickly and she is happy to be part of this welcoming community of faith. She tends to the business of The Good Shepherd office, and can be found at the church Monday through Thursday each week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. You may contact Amy at:

Lisa Otey and Diane VanDeurzen, Music Directors, Contemporary Service

Alejandra Rosas, Director of Faith Formation for Children & Youth

Jeff Vanderlee, Choir Director, Traditional Service

Kay Jean Moore, Pianist, Traditional Service

Severo Rivas, Custodian

The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ is a gathering of people committed to creating a bold, spirited, life changing presence in the Santa Cruz Valley. We seek to include everyone on the journey of faith because Jesus included everyone on the journey with him. 

We seek an informed faith and welcome questions that lead us to deeper places of understanding-because we don't have all the answers. We take scripture so seriously that we find it can't be taken literally. We seek a life and faith that is grounded in service and compassion so we find ways to actively and boldly live out this call.

We believe God is still speaking and that we must remain open to the call of the Spirit and not claim to have all the answers down pat. We believe God embraces all people equally, regardless of gender, race or sexual orientation.  We seek to include everyone on the journey of faith because Jesus included everyone on the journey with him.

We are playful people who believe in living joyfully, we love to sing, whistle, create and be moved by the spirit. We engage in lively worship, reach out to our neighbors, study the issues of the day, act boldly on our convictions  and break bread together in gratitude. 

Some of us live within a few blocks of the church building while others come as far as Tucson, Vail and Tubac. Some of us came just because we live nearby, some for our wonderful music, still others as a place for our children. 

Whatever the reason, we wonder if we might be just what you're looking for. Come and see.


We are united through Christ

The description above can be amplified by significant phrases commonly used by Christians:

  • that they may all be one
  • in essentials unity, in nonessentials diversity, in all things charity 
  • testimonies of faith rather than tests of faith 
  • there is yet more light and truth to break forth from God's Holy Word 
  • the priesthood of all believers 
  • responsible freedom

To find out more about our national denomination and the ministry they engage in on our behalf:
Select this link to our national United Church of Christ Website

For news about our Conference, and the support they provide for our congregation and others in our region:
Select this link to the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ

To learn about the work of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) around the world:
Select this link to Global Ministries


The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ and its congregation actively participate and support many programs and functions within the Santa Cruz Valley. Here are some of them:

  • Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
  • US/Mexico Border Delegations
  • Valley Assistance Services
  • Humane Borders
  • No More Deaths
  • Sahuarita Community Justice Board
  • Samaritans
  • Good Shepherd Estate Sales
  • Toastmasters
  • Stay and Play

We encourage our members to give of themselves, their time and their talents to helping those less fortunate.


We welcome all to our worship services as we seek to find new ways to put our faith to work - in our lives, our church, our community and the world.

Whether you are passing through, attending with a friend or relative, searching for a church home, or seeking answers to life's questions, we are glad to have you join us.

At the Good Shepherd, we welcome Children, Youth and Young Adults to participate in all areas of the church. In fact we believe that the quality of worship and service always increases, when there is a diversity of ages participating. We realize that people across the ages squirm and struggle for lots of different reasons, and it is ok to do that in the company of others that are on the journey with you.

9:00 a.m.  Spirited Traditional Service 

(October through April)

In this worship service expect a style that echoes from the ages and yet speaks to the contemporary person. 

Our Sanctuary Choir, accompanied by our gifted pianist will create a deeply spiritual atmosphere augmented by prayers, scripture, congregational singing and sermons that challenge and inspire faith-filled living beyond the doors of the church. 

Communion is offered the first Sunday of each month and is open to all.

11:15 a.m.  Engaging Contemporary Service

(October through April)

In this worship experience a family atmosphere is created that opens hearts and minds to celebration.

Expect a simple but quality music ensemble that leans toward thoughtful contemporary/popular music, mixed with up-tempo spirituals, and quiet reflective music. We use technology, drama, and other mediums in this service that helps us worship with all of our senses.

The weekly message is always crafted to create action and deeper thought. Candles are lit by participants each week to symbolize the prayers that are on our hearts. 

Children, youth and families are especially invited to this service - the first part of the worship is geared toward the youngest among us - including a “Word for All Ages” where the children are invited to come to the front of the church and have a special message for them. There is Church School and Child Care provided by experience and trained care givers and teachers. 

Communion is offered the first Sunday of each month and is open to all.

10:00 a.m.  Blended Worship

(From May through September)

In our long summer months we combine our worship experience and enjoy the very best from our different worship experiences.

Our choir trades off with soloist and quartets and we always have an interesting combination of worship styles and themes. While our congregation slims down, the spirit of the congregation seems to grow and build in these months. 

Our children have an important place in worship in the summer months and we always have a children’s activity and child care is provided. 

Communion is offered the first Sunday of the month and is open to all.

5:00 p.m.  Taize Style Worship

(Second Wednesday of the Month)

Taize is a time honored style of worship that involves candles in the dark, simple music with piano and voice and a reflective meditation.  It is the perfect way to quiet yourself before God and listen to still small voice of God.  All are welcome!

Special Worship Experiences Throughout the Year

We believe that worship should be energizing and joy-filled. That is why we have multiple special Sunday services throughout the year that help us to understand and experience the diversity and strength of different worship styles. 

Some recent examples are: Dia de los Muertos/All Soul’s Sunday, Mariachi Sunday, Bluegrass Sunday, Jazz Sunday, World Communion Sunday, Christmas Service with Steel Drums, Graduation Sunday, Mission Sunday and we even have had a noted blues musician play during our worship.  

The Good Shepherd has multiple Christmas Services, Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday with a live Donkey, Maundy Thursday and Easter Services. The Good Shepherd is known throughout the Sahuarita Community for our Easter Sunday Drama service that happens at 6:00 a.m. at the Sahuarita Lake.


The Good Shepherd's music program presents exciting and vibrant worship encompassing a variety of musical styles. Through weekly rehearsals, services, and special concerts and events we seek to share God's love through the gift of music.

Sanctuary Choir

The Good Shepherd Sanctuary Choir is open to anyone and everyone who would like to join. 
Rehearsals are weekly, on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., and provides music for the 9:00 a.m. worship service on Sunday mornings. 
The choir also performs select concerts throughout the year. The choir performs in a wide variety of styles ranging from sacred classical works to Gospel styles.

Please contact the church office for more details, or simply show up and we will supply you with all you need.

Lisa Otey, Diane Van Deurzen and Pablo Peregrina

The Good Shepherd 11:15 am service features local musicians that are well known in our area in the local blues, jazz and Latin music scene. They have an incredible ability to bring secular music into a sacred setting that creates a very spiritual and contemporary atmosphere.

Special Music Experiences Throughout the Year

We believe that worship should be energizing and joy-filled. That is why we have multiple special Sunday services that highlight different music traditions. 
Some recent examples are: Dia de los Muertos/All Soul’s Sunday, Mariachi Sunday, Bluegrass Sunday, Jazz Sunday, Christmas Service with Steel Drums, and we have even had a noted blues musician play during our worship.


We at The Good Shepherd United Church of Christ seek to welcome all God’s people into our fellowship, to minister to one another’s needs and provide opportunities for every person’s full participation in the life and mission of this congregation.

As an Open and Affirming congregation, we recognize the diversity of human nature to be part of God's creation and are committed to being inclusive of all persons regardless of age, race, gender, cultural or faith background, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender identity, mental or physical ability, marital status, economic circumstances, or political affiliation, and affirm all families and relationships founded on love, respect, responsibility and trust. 

As a United Church of Christ congregation ministering in this southern Arizona borderland, where cultural, racial, and religious diversity converge, we also affirm that part of our mission is to work for a just and loving world, giving recognition to all human needs in this unique time and place.

We, as a people who seek to follow Jesus example of “Extravagant Welcome,” invite all, no matter where they are on their faith journeys, into the full life and ministry of this congregation.

Since voting nearly unanimously to become an ONA congregation within the UCC, we have focused our attention on inclusion of all who are diverse, with a special emphasis on those in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer (LGBTQ) communities. 

In order to continue to increase our awareness and become even more welcoming, the Open and Affirming/Diversity Committee has presented panel dialogues with LGBTQ members at our church and from the broader community.  Also, in 2010, we presented a panel on homelessness in the Santa Cruz Valley and have identified needs to be addressed in Green Valley, Sahuarita and points south


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Our History starts when a small group of people decided that Sahuarita would be a perfect place for a church, a church that would be a home for families, retireees and all those in between. In September of 1990 our first service was at the Del Coronado Apartments. On April 13, 1993 the Good Shepherd received official Ecclesiastic Standing as a church member in good standing with the Southwest Conference of The United Church of Christ. In July of 1998 we moved into our first building on La Canada. See below for our timeline, a list of ministers and church documents.

Our timeline is here

A list of ministers from Reverend Raymond Plumlee to Reverend Dr. Randal John Mayer.

An inventory of our church documents


We of The Good Shepherd are a welcoming and caring congregation, courageous as followers of Jesus through community and worship. We welcome all regardless of where we are on personal journeys of faith. We speak out for social justice and compassion in a sometimes hostile and indifferent environment. We challenge ourselves to deepen our Christian faith and to blaze personal trails while walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We offer programs designed to meet the needs of our congregation, the Sahuarita / Green Valley communities, and our borderlands region.

As individuals and as a community of faith - how, where, why, and on whom we spend our money speaks volumes about our core values, what we believe and what are the important issues in our lives.

Stewardship also occurs in non-financial ways.  While “treasure” is required to execute some of our mission, “time and talent” are given much value as well.  Many opportunities are available at The Good Shepherd to further our goals in our faith, so please contact the office to see where you can be of greatest assistance.

Email can be sent to

Electronic Giving

Would you find it helpful to have your offerings debited directly from your bank account as you probably do with other obligations?

The Good Shepherd offers electronic giving for those of you who wish to have your contributions transferred electronically to the church’s account. If you travel, this is particularly helpful in keeping up with your intended offerings. One simple, easy to use authorization form can begin or change your electronic contribution amount.

Electronic donation Authorization Form

Contact the church office for more details.

Stewardship and Estate Planning

The Good Shepherd is making a concerted effort to build its planned giving program.  Planned giving is one of three giving opportunities that are vital to our Church’s fiscal health; the other two are the annual stewardship program that supports our congregation’s ongoing ministries, and an effort to seek gifts in support of our unrestricted endowment.

Planned gifts are important and lasting.  They will ensure that the vital witness of our Church will continue far into the future.  They also can provide important tax benefits and lifelong income to the donor.  There are a variety of instruments available; if you are interested, please contact Nancy Ackley,  Rick Ernst, or Pres Johnson.

The Charitable gift annuity is perhaps the most popular and beneficial form of planned gift.  For information on the amount of income you can receive, please go to the following website:

And if you have already made provision for The Good Shepherd in your estate planning, THANK YOU!  Please tell Randy or Amy that you have done so; we want to ensure that you receive appropriate recognition.