I grew up in Houston, Texas with my parents and younger sister. Upon graduation from high school, I attended Baylor University in Waco, TX where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, with majors in Religion and Greek. I then attended Princeton Theological Seminary and earned a Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in Biblical Studies and Christian Education.
My family has strong roots in the Southern Baptist Convention. Our roots there trace back to at least the revival-circuit preachers during the Second Great Awakening of this country. My grandfather had a taste of Presbyterian life when as a child, a Presbyterian minister would preach twice a month in his church in Paris, TX. My Christian nurture as a child was mainly in Southern Baptist churches. I attended Sunday school regularly, sang in choirs, went on mission trips and was active in junior high and high school youth groups. In the midst of this nurture, I “walked the aisle” at the age of seven to profess my faith in Jesus Christ and again, at sixteen, to commit my life to full-time ministry, due in large part to my youth group experience.
Because of my academic interests, my college professors suggested that I attend Princeton Theological Seminary, and what wonderful guidance that turned out to be. Princeton introduced me in a formal way to the history, theology and rich tradition of the Reformed faith. Over my four years there, I came to feel at home in the Reformed tradition and the Presbyterian Church (USA). At Princeton, I also met my wife, Tami Seidel. A native of Lancaster, PA, a life-long Presbyterian, and a graduate of Wellesley College (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, Religion major, Environmental Science minor), Tami is also an ordained PC(USA) minister. She has served as associate pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Plymouth, MI, and since we’ve had children, as part-time parish associate at First Presbyterian Church, Monroe, NY and at Highland and Marlboro. We have three wonderful and energetic children – Sophie, Benjamin, and Samuel – and two cats.
Along the way, I have worked in many jobs and ministry positions. I have been a substitute teacher in public schools, an examination coordinator for a community college, a teaching fellow and tutor, a student manager for a food service, and a research assistant. I have worked in a number of churches in both central and south Texas and in New Jersey, as well as in nursing homes in Houston and in prisons around Texas. I spent two years working as a chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in Trenton, NJ and another two years as a resident in the Clinical Pastoral Education program at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, OH. After CPE, I worked as an pastoral intern at First Presbyterian Church in Ypsilanti, MI while completing the ordination process.
From 2001-2009, I was the pastor of a yoked parish which includes the First Presbyterian Churches of Highland and Marlboro, NY. They have 100 and 125 active members on their rolls, but total closer to 300 when the scope of ministry includes family members and friends of the churches and children. They are nine miles apart, far enough to be in separate communities, but not too far, so that I had success in doing shared ministry and building fellowship between them. I had two of everything, from worship services to committee meetings, and it was an invaluable learning experience for me.