I grew up in a small community in northern Indiana. My parents grew up Amish but became Mennonite before I was born. It was great growing up in a small community where the town was my canvas for all kinds of mischievous activities. I went to church camp at nine years old and through the care of a camp counselor I experienced the love of God. My local church was very conservative and legalistic; a person shouldn’t dance, drink, smoke or play cards. These activities were seen as the “ways of the devil”.
I remember the minister pounding the pulpit and telling us how bad we were and if we didn’t get right with God we would go to hell. When I left church I always felt I was going to hell for something. I struggled with this conflict between hearing about the judgment of God in my church and experiencing the love of God at church camp.
As I got older and heard from the pulpit that my friends who were Catholics, Methodist or Jewish were going to hell because they weren’t a part of our church, I decided I didn’t want any part of a church like this.
As I went to college to study theater I came into relationship with people of other faiths and cultures. I always believed in God but was conflicted about the earlier teachings of my church and their judgment of people of other faith traditions. I experienced these people as good God-loving people trying grow in their relationship to God and to others. I saw them as children of God, like me, and could not believe God would damn them to hell because they did not hold the same beliefs I had. I could not reconcile the teaching of my church and my own experience of God’s love so I disengaged from the church altogether.
As I worked professionally in theater I was very unhappy in my soul. I felt disconnected from God and from myself. When I finally opened myself to God’s leading and experienced the power of the resurrection in my own life, Jesus’ teachings became real to me,
It wasn’t until I walked into First Christian Church ( Disciples of Christ) in Peru Indiana, where I was teaching speech at the local high school that I found a church that I connected with. When I went to worship I saw men and women share in leadership roles together, everyone was welcomed to take communion, whether you were a member or not. I heard about the love of God from the pulpit rather than the judgment of God. I began to have a new understanding of God as I came back to the church. For more info on the Christian Church go to http://www.disciples.org .
It was in Seminary at Christian Theological Seminary that I was able to find a new understanding of Jesus, and our relationship to people of other faiths. If you would like to read more about my reflections, my book Rearranging the Lines will explore in a deeper way these theological topics. I have committed my life to being a witness of Jesus teaching to “love God and our neighbor.” To bring the message of God’s love to all, I want to be a voice for the disenfranchised, and a peacemaker building bridges of understanding between all of God’s children.
I graduated from Ball State University 1977 with a double major in Speech &Theater. I have performed in over 50 musicals and dramas. I have written two plays, The House on Powers Street and I Am Not Ashamed. I have written a number of shorter dramas and monologues for religious holy days. I have created a number of short videos emphasizing spiritual themes. My claim to fame is I sang on the Johnny Carson Show in spring of 1978.
I graduated from Christian Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity in 1985. I have served as a Pastor in five congregations over the last 27 years. I worked with youth in the inner-city of Indianapolis to becoming a Senior Pastor of a multi-site congregation with three different style of worship in Florence Ky.
I love preaching, creating worship, being with people in their times of celebration and crisis. It is so rewarding seeing ordinary people do extraordinary things for God every day.
Two highlights stand out for me:
One: Being the President of the Interfaith Alliance, in Indianapolis. A coalition of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Bahá’í congregations that joined together for worship, study and mission.
Two : Our mission work in Bosnia after the war in 1995.Working with Christian Serbs and Bosnian Muslims to rebuild their country and relationships.
I love playing all types of poker. I have won tournaments and made final tables in France, and throughout the USA. I have thrown all of my trophies away because most of them are too tacky to have in the living room except the blown glass sailboat from the Beau Rivage in Biloxi, Mississippi. If you Google my name you can see my tournament winnings.
Snider High school, Fort Wayne Indiana-1973
Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana – 1973-77 Degree in Speech & Theater
Christian Theological Seminary, Indianapolis Indiana -1981-85 Masters of Divinity
I have run 5 marathons, do magic and love to play chess. I am married and have two-step daughters and two soul daughters.
I am currently the Senior Pastor at First Christian Church in Mooresville, Indiana.