About Us

History

Our Synod covers two states in the Southwest of the United States – Arizona and New Mexico, with Presbyterians worshipping in 140 churches. The Synod has a rich history. First were the Native Americans (near Clovis, NM, stone implements have been found that were over 10,000 years old). The next part of our heritage was the arrival of the Hispanic people from Mexico. In 1540, Francisco de Coronado brought an expedition through what is now Arizona and New Mexico.

The influx of Hispanics continued with particular growth occurring when Father Kino began his work in southeastern Arizona. The third wave of people into this area was the westbound people of the United States. There were trappers, hunters, gold-seekers, cattle ranchers and miners, all looking for a better life. Cattle raising, cotton-growing, other agricultural pursuits, and mining have changed to more commercial ventures of all sorts in the last 85 years. As in many mission areas, the Presbyterians brought churches, schools and medical care with them when they came.

Our area is growing at a rate much faster than that of the nation in general. We have a high diversity of life styles, incomes, and ethnicity. Our largest growth rate is among the Asian population but the largest percentage of our racial-ethnic community is Hispanic/Latino. Family structures are mixed but basically traditional and our worship preferences are contemporary. Our primary concerns are those of community and personal problems and we prefer spiritual and personal development as the direction for programs. The education levels of our metropolitan areas are high compared to those of the rural areas. There is more resistance to change in the urban areas than in the outlying communities. One very frustrating fact for evangelism is the low level of faith receptivity throughout the synod.

The Synod of the Southwest is made up of four units called presbyteries – Grand Canyon, de Cristo in Arizona, and Santa Fe and Sierra Blanca in New Mexico. There are two meetings of the Synod each year, with representatives and staff coming from each of the presbyteries. Our largest challenges are development and redevelopment, training of our lay leaders, and border (refugee) ministries. With regard to our urban communities, we are discovering that what we need to do is to address the needs and composition of those areas immediately surrounding our churches. The specific areas to be concentrated on are worship style, community service, program offerings and leadership styles.

On January 1, 1973 the Synod of the Southwest adopted the Ojo de Dios as their symbol. Four presbyteries serve, worship and work together to the honor and glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Ojo de Dios “eye of God”. The center represents the pupil of the eye of the Spirit. The four points represent Earth, Fire, Air and Water. The Ojo symbolizes a wish for Health, Fortune and Long Life.

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Mission

The Synod of the Southwest participates with others in the ministry of Jesus Christ to encourage and support mission in the Southwest by:

  1. Faithfully responding to the multicultural and historically-informed context in which God has placed us;
  2. Engaging one another in dialogue about ministry and faith across presbytery lines,and in partnership with the larger church (including, among others, General Assembly, other synods and ecumenical partners;
  3. Sharing and developing resources of people history, money and skills in seeking to live faithfully together.
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Vision

God is weaving the Synod of the Southwest into a tapestry of cultures, peoples and dreams – an “Ojo de Dios” that envisions a future of wholeness, grace and beauty.

Ojo: The center represents the pupil of the eye of the Spirit. The four points represent earth, fire, air and water. The ojo symbolizes a wish for health, fortune and long life.

Our Staff

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Elder Conrad M. Rocha

Synod Executive/Stated Clerk

Conrad M. Rocha is a member of the State Bar of New Mexico and, therefore, a licensed attorney in the State of New Mexico. He received his Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Political Science and Economics (Magna Cum Laude) and his Juris Doctor Degree from the University of New Mexico (UNM). Prior to entering UNM he served 10 years in the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam Veteran.

Prior to becoming the Interim Synod Executive/Stated Clerk of the Synod of the Southwest, Conrad served as the full-time Executive Director (a position which he will continue to hold, although on a more limited basis) of Law Access New Mexico, a not-for-profit corporation that provides free civil legal services to New Mexico’s poor. Prior to joining Law Access, Conrad served…

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Elder Robin Thomas

Associate Stated Clerk/Executive Assistant

Robin joined the Synod staff in May 2004. She was born and raised in Oneonta, NY, growing up in the Presbyterian Church. She and her husband, Ray, moved from western New York to Tucson in 1995.  They enjoy spending time with their daughter and son-in-law, Britney and Ryan, who live and work in Tucson. Their son, Andy, is currently attending Louisville Seminary in Louisville, KY. Robin is an Elder, a Stephen Minister and a member of the Chancel Choir at The Holy Way Presbyterian Church in Tucson.

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Elder Mary Lynn Walters

Synod Treasurer

Mary Lynn was born and raised in Naperville, Illinois and moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1969. She and her second husband, Lee, have six children, 20 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. A Presbyterian since 1962, she is active on all four levels of the church sitting on the council/session of each in 2005. Her hobbies include music, reading and bridge. She had her own business, a party goods store, for thirty-five years before her 2001 retirement.

Mary Lynn serves as a member of the Synod of Southwest Council. She is an elected member of the General Assembly Council and a member of Memorial Presbyterian Church where she serves as treasurer, stewardship chair, is a member of the choir and mission/outreach team. In Grand Canyon Presbytery, she is a council member due to her membership on GAC.