I was born October 24, in Long Island, NY to a family with a Christian faith and heritage. Although I know these circumstances have no bearing on my salvation I do believe it is important to know one’s roots and heritage in faith, as well as having my family strongly behind my aspirations to continue in the Lord’s ministry.
I was saved through confession of my sins through faith in Christ on May 17, 1984, after an AWANA meeting. During AWANA I heard the gospel message and contemplated it. When I arrived home and rested in my bed my mother came in to say bedtime prayers, when I asked her to help me pray to accept Christ. I prayed that night and Christ entered my heart. I wish sometimes that I could say I had some extraordinary repentance story, but I also am very appreciative and grateful for God’s providence and grace in my life in that He provided me a loving Christian family and a very supportive church.
I was baptized May 16, 1993 before the congregation of my church after my confession of faith. I felt it was important to publicly display my faith before my peers and fulfill an ordinance of God. The nuts and bolts of my faith through High School were rather simplistic. I attended Sunday School, Church and Youth group regularly. I volunteered in the different nurseries and was a L.I.T. in AWANA. I helped out in other ways as I was asked and was able.
I was faced with a personal decision over my college career. While I felt a strong pull to go into ministry and pursue higher education at a Christian college, I chose to go to a public college so I could test my faith out. I chose Cortland College to get an education background for further use as a Pastor. At Cortland College I became involved with a group of believers and helped to start a campus club, which we named AGAPE, the Greek word for God’s unconditional love. I also joined a local youth group as a leader and attended services at Memorial Baptist Church and had a valuable mentoring relationship with Pastor Dan Nicewonger. At Cortland I discovered that my calling was more towards a social work style Pastor, using case management and counseling skills to minister to my congregation. I realized my path at Cortland was a success and that my faith was real and secure in my God. I chose to move on from there and attend Gordon College to get my foundational work in social work education as well as a Christian education background.
At Gordon I spent most of my time and resources learning Social Work. At Gordon I was involved in ministry at North Shore Community Baptist Church as a Sunday School Teacher. I found this very rewarding and challenging at the same time. I also was a Resident Advisor at Gordon College and used my gifts in caring to run a residence hall. I felt called into ministry and believed that my future would best be served in focusing on Social Work education and later, going to seminary to gain a deeper knowledge of the Bible there. I feel so far that this plan has worked out as I currently see my Social Work background and knowledge making me an effective leader and worker in the church.
After Gordon I went back to live at home to get my Master’s in Social Work, as I believe that the counseling and practice aspects of social work will make me a very proficient pastor. At my ‘home church’, First Baptist Church of Patchogue, I became more involved in church life, being an Usher, joining the choir, becoming Asst. Sunday School Superintendent, being involved in Softball and AWANA. I was mentored by my pastor there, Rev. Stephen Willoughby, and preached two sermons on Sunday Night in preparation for me to go to seminary. My two sermons were on ‘God’s call for us to be Genuine’ and on the ‘Life of John Mark’. I feel that I developed my Bible-Study skills deeply at this time and felt that my time there was spent well in giving me time to get more rooted in Christian fellowship and my gifts working with children and adolescents.
Back at Gordon I had met a girl named Darcy Mason who transferred back to St. Joseph’s College of Maine to study nursing. The time had come and I proposed to her, she said yes. Interwoven with these events, I had obtained a job in Maine at Catholic Charities, which gave me quasi confirmation that I should be marrying Darcy, and opened the door for us to start our lives together in Portland, Maine. (I never thought I would end up in Maine.)
In Maine I became the Director of Christian Education (DCE) at Galilee Baptist Church in Gorham, Maine. As DCE I was tasked with oversight of AWANA, Sunday Schools, Youth Ministry and women’s care group. I also trouble shot issues in the nursery and am implementing a youth mentoring program with Teens in nursery leading bible lessons for 3-4 year olds being mentored by adults. I have been focusing on training and program improvements as DCE. One summer I ran a regional production of Purpose Driven Youth Ministry based on the DVD’s from Simply Youth Ministry. Unfortunately that was a part-time job and I constantly find myself going over my assigned hours to go the extra mile. I feel God’s irresistible call on my life to be involved in youth and family ministries. I feel gifted in the areas of administration, discipleship, caring and shepherding. I find myself seeing to the physical as well as spiritual needs of those in my congregation whether or not my ‘job description’ calls on it. But on that note, I DO strongly believe that my life’s job description is going the extra mile for other people and being a servant. I also use my sense of humor to reach people and empathize with people of all different groups. I find myself able to contact and build relationships with people of all ages and find that it is one of my strengths.
In 2007, Darcy and I left Maine to go to Denver Seminary to pursue seminary education and my youth ministry career. I am still unsure how pastoral counseling, social work and youth ministry are going to fit in my life, but I am confident that the end result is going to be phenomenal. So far school has been great and challenging. I have learned much in youth ministry and Greek. It has been far from the “cemetery” that some feared it would be for me. I started working with the Butterfly program 1/08 and have been working there as a pediatric palliative care social worker for about a year now. It has been both a challenge and blessing working for families who are going through the potential demise of one of their children and supporting them as they walk through their darkest hours. It interests me how my previous experiences and training has brought me to this vocation and helped me be useful for this job/mission.
I continue to pursue my seminary degree and am working on being published in Youth Ministry and Social Work journals. I don’t know what the future brings, but am interested in pursuing doctoral studies in the future.