JOURNEY OF FAITH
I grew up in the church, the eldest of three sons, with parents who were both elders in the Presbyterian church. Through the love of my parents and the love of my congregation, together fulfilling their baptismal vows, I learned the love of Jesus Christ. I can honestly say that I can never remember a time in my life when I did not know that love through a community of believers.
My hometown is Gallatin, TN, and this is where I spent my formative years, surrounded by family and friends. After graduating high school I attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville where I earned a B.A. in Political Science. (And yes…I am a rabid Vol fan!!!) My church home while in Knoxville was Second Presbyterian Church, the first congregation I was a part of on my own away from my family. These people ministered to me during that vulnerable time in life and they taught me that questioning my faith, questioning God, and considering different theologies was not only okay, but that it was normal and that it could and should be done within the covenant community of faith.
After graduating college I worked as a professional entertainer for 9 years. During this time I was almost always employed as a church musician, as well. Along the way I met Tuesday Arwood, a native of Blountville, TN, whose personality, laughter, and voice captured my heart. We were married in October 1993 (during Bountville’s annual Harvest Hoedown!) and have been partners in life, music, and ministry ever since. Eventually we grew tired of our nomadic and unpredictable lifestyle and moved to Nashville to put down roots. Tuesday went back to school to finish her degree in Special Education and I went to work in the corporate hospitality world at Gaylord Entertainment, planning and overseeing conventions at the Opryland Hotel. Soon, however, I began to feel that God had something different planned for my life. After many long discussions with my pastor and my wife and a great deal of prayer, I enrolled at Columbia Theological Seminary in the summer of 1998. We had three wonderful years as part of the seminary community. Just a few months prior to graduation we received a wonderful blessing when, after many years of struggling with infertility, our son, Seth, was born in January 2001.
Upon graduation in May 2001 I was called to serve as pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Hendersonville, TN. The 8 years we spent in Hendersonville were wonderful; we served a very loving congregation and we were close to family. The greatest blessing we had during this time, however, was the adoption of our daughter, Lily Grace, into our family in December 2004 when she was two months old. In the spring of 2009 I was called to be the Discipleship Pastor at Church of the Palms in Sarasota, FL. After serving two years there we were called to move closer to home and to family and so we came to Abingdon, VA, where I am currently the pastor of Sinking Spring Presbyterian Church.
In early 2016 a friend in Knoxville informed me that Second Presbyterian Church was beginning the search process and she thought we might be a good fit for one another. She did not know of my history with the congregation and she did not know that my wife and I were in a season of prayer for discernment regarding our long-term ministry in Abingdon. After reading Second’s Ministry Information Form I was moved by the Holy Spirit and requested to be considered for the position. I feel the Lord’s hand strongly upon and within this call and believe that God has been preparing me for ministry with and to this congregation for my entire life. I am excited for the opportunity to give something back to a community of saints that gave so much to me. I also feel that the gifts I have for ministry are exactly what Second has discerned it needs from pastoral leadership during this chapter of their journey.
Mostly, however, I am thrilled to be joining the saints in ministry at Second Presbyterian Church as we join God’s story in the world, seeking together to discover what God is up to in the congregation and in our lives, answering God’s calling to be salt and light in the world, and seeking to be God’s Kingdom people together in Knoxville and beyond.