I am a 47 year old, second career, first-time appointee, full-time licensed local pastor in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church. I’m currently serving at Lookout Mountain UMC. I’m married to the love of my life. We are the parents of an amazingly talented 12-year-old daughter and we are the godparents of a beautiful Bassett Hound named Blossom.
I am a native of Franklin, Tennessee and grew up literally within a stones throw of First United Methodist Church and was very active in the UMYF at the local and district level (mid 70’s). I drifted away from church while in college but eventually came back with an even stronger faith than when I left.
I met my wife in college, although it took 8 years for her to finally catch me. After we married, we moved to Nashville and attended Belmont UMC. When my wife accepted a teaching job in Clarksville, TN, we moved to a community that was half way between our jobs, Pleasant View, TN. We joined Pleasant View UMC and found a home with the greatest and most loving bunch of people that I’ve had the privilege of knowing. We were there for 7 years before moving to Chattanooga to help care for my wife’s mom.
We joined Brainerd UMC in Chattanooga, the church home of my wife’s grandparents. I became a lay speaker, hoping to quiet a sense of calling that I had been running from since high school. However, the feeling intensified and I entered into the ministry inquiry process, candidacy studies and eventually was licensed on June 14, 2006. My long-range goal is ordination as an Elder, hopefully before I retire.
Why do you blog?
That’s a question that I ask myself almost every day. I started at the suggestion of a friend who thought that I might have something worth saying. TN Rambler’s Ramblings has evolved into more of a journal than anything else. I don’t write as frequently as I would like.
What has been your best blogging experience?
The discovery that there were folks actually reading and responding to what I had to say. Oh, and having Keith Taylor pop in at the church just to say Hi was cool too.
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Find your voice and keep plugging away. Write about the things that you have a passion for and share that passion with your readers.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
Three is pretty limiting, because I check my list of favorites at least once a day. Besides, how can I do this and not insult the bulk of the Methodist Blogroll (and my Nashville connection)? Oh, what the heck...
Locusts and Honey – I have a unique (some say strange) sense of humor and I like your style.
Ragamuffin Ramblings – Steve was the first blogger that I started reading regularly. He always has something important to say and he says it well.
Who are your spiritual heroes?
Besides Jesus and John Wesley? Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, St. Benedict, Charles Wesley.
What are you reading at the moment?
Bill Clinton by Bill Clinton (although I’ve been “reading it” for the last year)
The Beatitudes for Today by James C. Howell
Creativity and the Divine Surprise, Finding the Place of Your Resurrection by Karla Kincannon
What is your favorite hymn and why?
O Love Divine, What Hast Thou Done by Charles Wesley. The words really speak to me of the centrality of the cross and the sacrifice that Christ made on my behalf.
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?
Abortion – I do not favor abortion but I don’t believe that it should be abolished. I find myself in agreement with ¶ 161J of the Discipline. I was once in favor of capital punishment, but now cannot condone it.
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Individualism – the sooner folks realize that it’s not about “me” the better off we’ll all be. As a society we are drifting away from the communal aspect of our nature and this is not a good thing.
If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
I would require our politicians in Washington to be locked in a room until they could get along. The political divide in this country is destroying us. We also need to return to the days of statesmanship, when our representatives did what was right, not necessarily what was expedient. But then again, was there ever such a time?
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
I have spoken on my blog about my concerns re the draft report of the study of ministry commission. I believe that if these recommendations are adopted (as stated in the draft report) the church will disenfranchise many of our congregations being faithfully served by licensed local pastors by restricting the authority of all of our licensed clergy to celebrate the sacraments of baptism and holy communion. In my own charge, we have moved from once or twice a year celebrations of communion to monthly. As a first-year licensed local pastor just entering Course of Study, I would no longer be allowed to consecrate the elements or baptize under the current proposal. I fail to see how maintaining ecumenical relationships can be allowed to overshadow the needs of our congregations. So, I guess that I’m advocating that we NOT change our policy.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Find yourself and become comfortable with who you are. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Find something to laugh about every day. Never forget that you are a child of God.
What, if anything, do you worry about?
I worry about having enough money to pay the bills and save for the future. I worry about how we’ll be able to afford college for my daughter (and for me, for that matter). I worry about the fact that we’re all about consumption and what kind of world we’re leaving for our children.
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
I would have taken college more seriously and I would have completed my BA rather than accepting a great job (with great pay) in the summer before my junior year. However, I realize that my past has made me who I am, so would I really change anything? Probably not.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
I would move back to Franklin, TN (or the Vandy/Belmont area of Nashville) in a heartbeat. A cabin in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee or Western North Carolina wouldn’t be bad either.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Listening to music (My tastes are very varied) and reading for fun, especially in a rocking chair on a porch in the Smokies.
What is your most treasured possession?
They are not possessions, but my wife and daughter mean everything to me. I need to do a better job of letting them know that.
What talent would you most like to have?
The ability to accompany myself on piano or guitar would be great.
If you could have any three guests, past or present to dinner, who would they be?
My paternal grandfather – he died a month after I was born, Charles Wesley and Eleanor Roosevelt. It would at least be an interesting evening.