New Pastor Cometh
Aug – Sept
A colleague once told me that when a new pastor and a new congregation first meet, they do so worrying about the same things. The pastor thinks, “I really hope they like me.” Meanwhile, the congregation thinks, “We really hope he (she) likes us.” To be sure, pastoral transitions always come with bated breath. After all, what if we’re not a good fit?
Well, the last two weeks have dispelled any such fear, at least for me. Every day brings with it a deeper sense of belonging at Hopewell, which speaks to your warmth and hospitality. Still, you may per chance want to know something about me, so here goes:
I grew up in Advance, North Carolina—the son of an engineer and a school teacher. As a boy, I did what most boys did then and there: I played in the woods behind our neighbor’s house; fished for small brim in the local creek as it emptied into the Yadkin; barely tolerated middle- and high school; and played sports along the way.
After graduation, I spent six years in Wilmington, receiving both undergraduate and graduate degrees in English from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. In graduate school, I discovered both a passion and a gift for teaching, which seemed to firm up things for me vocationally: I would make a career in the classroom.
In the summer between my first and second years of graduate school, a confluence of events, conversations, and questions led me irretrievably down the path to ministry in the church. I realized that if the Gospel were true—if the Father had in fact poured out his love for the world in the crucified and risen Son—then nothing else mattered. This realization accompanied a growing conviction that the whole of my life had prepared me for the work of ministry. So I took the next logical step: I applied to Divinity School.
Would you believe, they let me in?
In Divinity School, the pace of life stepped up considerably. By graduation in 2017, I had pastored two churches; met and married my wife; became a Duke basketball fan; spent our first year of marriage living in a college freshman dorm; and studied theology in Germany for a year. All along the way, the Lord brought into greater focus the kind of work to which he called me. I was to utilize my passion and gift for teaching to help his people marvel at him—to ponder the things of God with joy and wonder. At the same time, the Lord called me to enter into a deep and meaningful relationship with his people, so as to communicate his peace and presence and love to the children of God. Taken together, both kinds of work—teaching and relating—have proven to be the cornerstone of a particular calling in the church. As I look back now, I realize that this call has echoed down the hallways of my life, urging me on from one moment to the next to now—to you. The call, it seems, is to be a pastor, and I’m beyond thrilled that I get to be yours.