Community profile: Rifle pastor uses photography to fundraise for youth suicide prevention – Glenwood Springs Post Independent


Rifle Church of Christ pastor Jon Phillips and Whistle Pig Coffee Stop co-owner Jasmine Atchison work together to hang the “Chair 109” print in the downtown Rifle shop on Friday morning. The canvas print is for sale for $200 and all proceeds will be donated to the Second Wind Fund for youth suicide prevention.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

When Jon Phillips was 18 years old he felt hopeless. He was going through a dark time and his life felt like it had little meaning.

Phillips remembers pulling through those dark days with the help of a pastor who took the time to reach out and form a relationship that ultimately saved him.

Now, 20 years later, Phillips is a pastor at the Rifle Church of Christ and hopes he can provide youth the same help he himself so desperately needed.

“As a pastor, a moment that hit home was when I did a funeral for a young man here in Rifle a few years ago who passed away from suicide,” Phillips said. “Seeing the heartbreak of the family and all the people that were left behind; just wondering if something else could have been done.”

As a father of three children ranging in ages from 8- to 12-years-old, Philips has talked to each of them about suicide, self-harm and why people might want to end their life. He fears that young people are facing an uphill battle to find meaning because human relationships are often lost to the digital world.

A note accompanying the “Chair 109” print explaining that 100% of the $200 for the print will be donated to the Second Wind Fund for youth suicide prevention.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

“I think we will see an increase in the need for human relationships versus technological relationships,” he said. “I think there is a big difference and sometimes I think it’s hard for young people to know the difference or to even know why human relationships are better.”

Helping through the lens

Phillips had his first camera and darkroom experience when he was in seventh grade. He didn’t realize it at the time but it was an experience that would make a lasting impression on him.

His passion for photography was rekindled after moving to Rifle from Arkansas in 2013. He grew up in Laramie, Wyoming and remembers visiting Glenwood Springs and popular fishing holes often with his family. After returning to the Western Slope — a place that feels most like home to him — he often takes full advantage of what the Southern Rocky Mountains have to offer and …….


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