Redemption for Carbondale pastor
When the new pastor of The Orchard was kicked out of a Texas Bible college, it felt like his career in ministry was over.
Daniel Self remembers the campus dean calling him into an office with a file of his alleged wrongdoings. “We’re going to let you not reapply, and this will go away,” Self remembers the dean telling him.
Self described the mischievous activities as pranks, but would not elaborate further, except to say, “me and organized religion don’t always get along.”
Self, 43, grew up in Redstone, where his father, Doug Self, founded a church in 1976, and felt a calling to the ministry at an early age. Doug founded a second church in Carbondale in 1990, which eventually became The Orchard.
After leaving Bible college, Self thought his career in ministry was over. But he got an internship with a rapidly growing church in Georgia, got married, and his career as a pastor appeared to be back on track.
His 13 years in Georgia were times of “crazy success; crazy failure,” Self said.
The failure came out of his personal life. His wife was “chronically unfaithful,” Self said, and eventually the marriage reached a breaking point.
“I had to choose between my career, my marriage and my heart,” he said. “So I let the career go first to try to save the marriage. Finally, that wasn’t viable.”
Self is now remarkably open about his past, more than some pastors may be comfortable with, because he hopes it will resonate with the people he meets.
“I really believe it would be a disservice to God and this whole thing if I just told people what was good in my life,” Self said.
After the marriage ended, he taught jujitsu in Georgia for a time, and then returned to the Roaring Fork Valley around 2008.
He felt he was done with ministry as a job, and worked for a local bank. He made it back into ministry nearly 10 years ago by working with his father’s church under the supervision of Charley Hill.
“It was a time of healing for his heart,” Doug said of his son’s return to ministry. “Especially meeting his wife, Amy. It was healing for both of them.”
Daniel met Amy, who had lost her own husband to a skiing accident, through friends at the church.
“The fairy tale had kind of ended for both of us,” Daniel said. They are now married and live in the Ironbridge neighborhood (thanks to the housing lottery) with their son Elijah, 6 and daughter Selah, 3.
“Redemption is a word I use a lot in my life, to see how God has redeemed my wife and I, in our story and all that we lost,” Daniel said.“I always thought I would come back here and pastor. I just thought it would be under different conditions,” he added.
Daniel started as lead pastor at The Orchard June 1, and his father sees the experience as an indelible part of the story.
“He started off very skilled, but he’s added a depth and a richness to his speaking that we’re very proud of, and is very beneficial for the church and everybody there,” Doug said.
Doug believes The Orchard could double or triple in size under Daniel’s leadership.
Daniel wants to be a source of healing for people in the community, not just the ones who already go to church.
“Jesus was known as somebody who hung out with the drunkards and the sinners, and he got the reputation for being those things,” he said.
“One of my favorite places to go and be a pastor is White House Pizza bar. I have a lot of friends in town that I get to be real with, they accept me, I accept them without any pretense. God may come up, he may not. But I’m as much a pastor there as I am on stage.”
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