I am an almost 30 something ordained elder of the United Methodist Church. More importantly, I am a husband to my wife Alycia and father to my son Dean. I am currently the associate pastor at Hawthorne Lane UMC in Charlotte, NC. Before taking this appointment I served three churches in the Ashton-under-Lyne Circuit near Manchester, England. Before that I did my MDiv at Duke Divinity School and my undergrad at Montreat College.
Why do you blog?
I started to blog this Lent. It was my Lenten Discipline. Instead of taking something away I decided to add journaling. I have attempted to blog before but I committed to these last 40 days. Blogging has grown on me and I have enjoyed the growing community out there which uses blogs. So currently (now being on the other side of Easter) I blog to participate in that community and to continue a fruitful spiritual discipline I have started to love.
What has been your best blogging experience?
Since this is my first blogging experience this has been the best, but truthfully it has been receiving comments. It was fun to realize that people actually read the stuff I have written. People I don’t know from all over the world have visited this blog. It has enabled me to think and write a little more like I did when I was in seminary, which is refreshing to say the least.
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Commit. As I have read other people’s blogs it has been interesting those who write daily or weekly. My suggestion is commit for a period of time, Advent or Lent and give it a shot.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
Ohh, my blog list is growing but I would say A Peculiar Preacher, Only Wonder Understands and Locusts and Honey.
Who are your spiritual heroes?
John Wesley, Peter Storey, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
What are you reading at the moment?
Goodnight Moon, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish Blue Fish, The Giving Tree, and The Velveteen Rabbit. With an 8 month old it is great to find the wonderful theology in children’s books as he drools on them. And when I have time Velvet Elvis and Harry Potter and Half-Blood Prince
What is your favorite hymn and why?
“Here I am Lord”, a wonderful hymn that speaks to my soul about being called by God into ministry. My body shivers any time it is sung. I love the fact that the verses are in unison (God’s questions sung as one voice) and the response or chorus is harmonized (all God’s children answering the call).
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you've changed your mind?
I have changed my mind on many of them as I have grown in my faith and education. One major one though would have to be morality in general. Early on in my faith, in high school and undergrad, I liked to see the world as black and white. To me morality that was black and white was easy to understand and made it easier to judge. My heart changed though as I realized this was not the teaching of Jesus. Jesus knew that the world was gray and slowly I started to see his point.
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Currently I think the idea that being an American and a Christian are the same thing is something that we desperately need to talk more about. Yet one has to be careful extending their neck with this subject because many people will like to cut it off.
If you could effect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
I would make my vote count and make the popular vote the one that elects a president. The whole
If you could effect one major policy change in the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
When I was a minister in England for a year I learned a lot about another Methodist system. Over there all ministers are paid the same. The Circuit Superintendent got a little bit more pay due to a little heavier work load. I think some kind of pay scale adjustment might be a good possibility for the UMC system. It seems that money plays a huge role in the appointment process and promotes competition between ministers and churches. There is something about that fact that bugs me. It reminds me of money changers in the temple.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
The most important piece of advice about life I have is one my father gave me a couple of years ago, that a co-worker gave him. He told me “it is all about relationships.” I absolutely agree. It is the relationships you have with your staff, your other ministers, your parishioners, and God that makes all the difference in the world. If people have a relationship with you they are more likely going to listen and allow you to lead them where God wants. It is all about relationships.
What, if anything, do you worry about?
I worry about my son, Dean, and how he will grow up. As a Preacher’s Kid will he rebel against God and the church? Will he hate the church because it takes me away from him? Will he think I tend more to the church family than my own?
If you were to relive your life to this point, is there anything that you'd do differently?
At this point in life I don’t really have many regrets or nothing that seems to be big do-over. I am happy with where I am in life.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
I would love to live in England once again. Manchester is such a cool city and the UK is wonderful. The people, the history, the character, it is all great (except for the rain of course)
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I love playing guitar, playing with Dean, watching TV and movies, surfing the web. I also enjoy getting frustrated with my golf swing and Duke basketball.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Martin (but it probably should be my wedding ring!)
What talent would you most like to have?
I would love to be able to hear a piece of music and be able to play it without thinking or trying.
If you could have any three guests, past or present to dinner, who would they be?
John Wesley, Mike Krzyzewski, and Peter.