I’ve been a pastor in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the UMC for 25 years, presently serving Trinity in Sumter, SC. Got my undergraduate degree at Clemson and then my MDiv at Emory, where now I get to teach in the Course of Study program during the summer.
My father is a minister as was his father, though I am the first in the United Methodist faith. And I married a pastor’s daughter. After watching me do ministry for so many years, Cynthia decided someone should do it correctly, so she left nursing and went to Emory and now is a pastor in a nearby town.
My eldest daughter is “suffering for Jesus” (ha ha) on the Isle of Palms, SC as a Director of Youth and Children’s ministries. And my youngest is busy being a Junior in High School – but also is involved in Conference youth ministries and was elected last year as the first teen ever (I believe) from SC as a Gen Conf delegate.
Why do you blog?
A couple of friends suggested I try it. I was writing a lot but not on a regular basis. So I thought it might develop some discipline and open more avenues of communication.
What has been your best blogging experience?
Don’t know the best, but the most interesting to me so far was going to another city to teach a seminar and having a guy come in my room who knew me through my blog. I guess that’s when the connective power of blogging hit me.
What would be your main advice to a novice blogger?
Kinda like Peter Bohler’s advice to John Wesley, “Preach faith until you have it.” Except in this case, it’s: Post blogs until you have your own voice, and then because you have found your voice, you will blog.
If you only had time to read three blogs a day, what would they be?
Who has time for 3 a day? I do is check the Methoblog and see if what there interests me. Found some very good writers, but I just don’t regularly check any, except maybe my brother’s blog to see what he is up to, RandomConnections.com
Who are your spiritual heroes?
Sounds corney, I know, but number one is my Dad. His deep investment in the Word, plus his open-mindedness paved the way for me to find a world of theology and praxis outside the constraints of the fundamentalism he’d inherited. Number two is John Wesley – discovering his writings in college introduced me to grace. Favorite theologians are Bonhoeffer & Moltmann.
What are you reading at the moment?
Just finished Borg and Crossan’s The Last Week and Rueben Job’s Three Simple Rules. Halfway through Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne and Chris Haw, and Centuries of Holiness by Richard Valantasis. On deck is Bishop Goodpaster’s new book, There’s Power in the Connection and Tom Brokaw’s Boom. Hard to focus on just one at a time….
What is your favorite hymn and why?
Trust and Obey (cause both of those are what I need to do).
Can you name a major moral, political, or intellectual issue on which you’ve changed your mind?
Yes, many, which isn’t unusual for those of us to see life in shades of gray. But one that stands out right now is my shift from total support of Israel to a better understanding of the complexities of the Palestinian conflict and the need for the US to become a stronger advocate for both sides to make concessions.
What philosophical thesis do you think is most important to combat?
Neo-gnosticism, and I wish I knew how.
If you could affect one major change in the governing of your country, what would it be?
Still would like to see if term limits could make an improvement.
If you could affect one major change in the governing of the United Methodist Church, what would it be?
Some method of reining in the independence of the general agencies so that they are held more accountable to the Church.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life?
Get out of bed every morning, and think about where you want to end up before you start.
What, if anything, do you worry about?
Our children and their children having a livable future with the way we’re messing things up.
If you were to relive your life up to this point, is there anything you’d do differently?
Win the powerball at age 21. (Oops, did I, a Methodist, write that? Must have meant tennis ball.)
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do now)?
Still in the South, but in my own home with my own fruit trees, grape vines and gardens, things that take time to develop – itineracy is tough that way.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Just get out and see the world, it’s amazing.
What is your most treasured possession?
I guess it’s the copper and brass base of a 5 inch (circumference) mortar shell from my Dad’s WW2 navy days - on which he engraved designs by tapping a nail against it. It sits on my desk and reminds me of noble causes, great sacrifices, and a young man coming into his own faith in a wide-open, chaotically transforming world.
What talent would you most like to have?
To draw/paint. The above mentioned home would have a very messy art room.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner, who would they be?
A night of great story-tellers: Eudora Welty, Fred Craddock, and my uncle Joe.