Just after the historic announcement made in April 2018 general conference introducing ministering in place of home and visiting teaching, Benjamin Beeson, president of the Orem Utah Cascade Stake, found himself in need of calling three new stake high councilors.
After identifying the first two men he and his presidency wished to call, President Beeson said the revelation for calling the third man came as a somewhat startling but beautiful revelatory experience.
“It came as pure of a message ... as any I’ve received as a stake president,” President Beeson said.
But despite the clarity of the calling, President Beeson said he couldn’t help but question.
“But he’s 90,” President Beeson recalled saying after receiving the prompting to call Jim Pinegar.
Although his logic regarding the age of Brother Pinegar made him hesitate momentarily, President Beeson said that after speaking to his counselors, they all felt sure that they were meant to call Brother Pinegar to the high council.
“The Lord will use us at any time in our lives if we remain willing and ready," President Beeson said.
Part of what made him sure is the way Jim Pinegar exemplifies what it means to be a minister, President Beeson said.
Frequently, after attending sacrament meetings or stake presidency meetings, President Beeson said he has made the effort to call the speakers whose talks have stood out to him to thank them for their thoughts.
“I’ve had this experience a few times where I’ve said, ‘Well, I just wanted to call and say thank you for your message,’ and they would say something like, ‘Oh, you’re the second person to call,' ” President Beeson explained.
The first person to call was always Brother Pinegar. “He just has that way of reaching out to people,” President Beeson said. “So with the focus on ministering, we just thought, 'What better example than Brother Pinegar?' He’s someone who reaches out to youth and neighbors and friends continually.”
A lifetime of service
Brother Pinegar and his wife, Colleen Pinegar, whom he affectionately calls "Coco," have been married nearly 72 years. After meeting during their senior years of high school in Provo, Utah, they began dating following their graduation and became engaged shortly thereafter. They were married on Friday, Sept. 13, 1946.
“It was a lucky day,” Sister Pinegar said.
Since that day, the couple have hardly spent any time apart from one another. Their lives have always centered on the gospel, and everything they do, they do together. “It’s we,” Brother Pinegar said, “not me.”
With five children and more than 20 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, the Pinegars have held nearly every calling in the Church.
Nevertheless, being called as a stake high councilor at 90 years old was still a bit of a shock. “But he’s had enough experience to be OK with the assignment he’s been called to now,” Sister Pinegar said.
Following college, Brother Pinegar worked for more than 29 years in industrial engineering. Although he enjoyed his time in the field, Brother Pinegar said he always had a dream to work for the Church. He was eventually presented with the opportunity through the Presiding Bishop’s office. He was assigned as the director of temporal affairs for the South Pacific Area, living in Hawaii.
Although their time in Hawaii was short, the Pinegars said it was a wonderful beginning to the next several years working in various capacities in the Church. His employment allowed them opportunities to visit many unique locations around the world.
Brother Pinegar worked for the Church for more than 16 years, only pausing for two short breaks to serve missions with his wife in Salt Lake City; he was called to preside over the Family History Mission and, later, to direct Church service missionaries.
Despite his years of experience, Brother Pinegar was initially a little overwhelmed by the call to the stake high council. “I’m 90, and I’m old,” he said.
Nevertheless, he welcomed the call, knowing that it came from the Lord, he said. It has been a blessing for them in unexpected ways, his wife added.
“We’ve commented that it has brought increased joy to each of us,” Brother Pinegar said grabbing his wife’s hand and smiling at her. “We’re happier together. We’re working harder. There’s a lot to do, but she’s a marvelous support.”
Since receiving the call, Brother Pinegar said that he and his wife’s prayers have been "very anxious" and sincere as they plead with the Lord to be able to help those in need.
“Through this whole thing, from the time we married, we’ve been Church focused,” Brother Pinegar said. “We’ve been focused on the Lord.” Sister Pinegar added, “We’re doing it because we love the Lord.”
Never too old
“Who here is over 90?” Brother Pinegar recently asked while speaking as part of his high councilor duties at an assisted living residence within his stake’s boundaries. When no hands went up, Brother Pinegar said, “Well, I guess that means I’m the oldest one here.”
And if they’re being honest, that’s often the case for both the Pinegars. But if Brother Pinegar’s recent calling has taught them anything, it’s that age really is just a number.
According to his wife, Brother Pinegar has the ability to connect to pretty much anyone, regardless of their age or life stage. “He has a unique connection to the youth,” Sister Pingar said sharing a story of a young boy in their ward. The 10-year-old boy told Brother Pinegar one Sunday that he liked his tie. That same Sunday, once their meeting block was over, Brother Pinegar took off his tie and gave it to the young boy.
“So every week now when he comes to Church, he wears that tie,” Sister Pinegar said. Little gestures — like calling individual members of their ward to wish them a happy birthday — are just some of the things Brother Pinegar does to continually minister to the people around him and show them they are loved.
“In some ways, I don’t have the capacity to do what I did when I was younger,” Sister Pinegar said. “But I do have the capacity to be of service in some way.”
And how does Brother Pinegar keep in contact with the youth in the Church and in his family? “I can out-text you,” he said enthusiastically.
Both he and his wife said one of the reasons they are grateful for the time they spent as missionaries in Salt Lake City is that it taught them a lot about technology. They both use iPhones with the ease of someone much younger as they talk-to-text and Facetime with their children, grandchildren and members of their stake.
For President Beeson, Brother Pinegar's calling is a reminder for him to “always be ready, because [the Lord] will use you at any time in your life if you are willing and ready.”
Despite being the oldest in all of their stake council meetings, Brother Pinegar has really lit a fire with his enthusiasm, President Beeson said.
In terms of seniority within the council, Brother Pinegar is technically the junior councilor, President Beeson said. But “when Jim speaks, we all listen. He’s very in tune to what is currently happening in the Church.”
They are always up to date, especially when it comes to ministering and understanding the changes within Church programming.
But the Pinegars say that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. “I've been ministering all my life,” Brother Pinegar said. “Ministering is caring for other people, and it’s just, it really isn’t new to me."
President Beeson said he has already seen many benefits for the stake since he called Broth Pinegar three months ago. “He’s full of enthusiasm,” President Beeson said.
The Pinegars are an example to everyone in their stake and beyond, President Beeson said. “They’re genuine disciples of Christ,” he said.