Tuesday, May 10, 2016

A Few Testimonials

"Thank you for all of the Blessings you have given to me and so many others." -Lydia

"Thanks for taking the time to sit and talk to me last week. You brought up several questions I hadn't thought about before. Following our talk I have had a sense of peace. I so appreciate your words and time ..." -Gerry

"Thank you for your sermon Sunday. Anything that makes God sound loving instead of vengeful is inspirational to me. Thank you for always presenting God in such a positive way. God bless you." -Kay

"Jon, we are so grateful for all of your energy and your commitment to the Lord. Thank you for being our shepherd. With love and friendship." -Lynne & Jim

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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

My Faith Journey

Hey there. Good to have you drop by. I would love to learn more about you. Friend me on Facebook to get in touch or you may follow me on Twitter. Since childhood I have sensed a call from God to Christian ministry. This sense of call deepened during my adolescent years when I found a spiritual home in the “Jesus People” movement of the 1970s and gained valuable experience leading contemporary worship in small group settings. My introduction to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) came during my undergraduate days at Belhaven College and I joined Fondren Presbyterian Church where I sang in the choir and felt a keen attraction to the formal worship liturgy.

My sense of call to ministry continued but did not yet include a felt call to the preaching ministry. Therefore, upon graduation from Belhaven I prepared myself to become a Director of Christian Education at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE) in Richmond Virginia where I earned a Master of Arts degree. My wife Jana, whom I had dated in college, joined me on this journey of faith and we were married on January 1, 1986. Her support for me and my ministry have been and continue to be a fountain of love from which I draw strength and vision.

Upon graduation from PSCE with an MA in Christian Education, I received a call to serve as Director of Christian Education at First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Tennessee. During my five years there the church grew from 500 to 650 members. It was an exciting time of service on an energetic church staff. I very much enjoyed the collegial staff relations and was inspired by the Head of Staff, Rev. Jim Irwin, to return to seminary and pursue ordination as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. God’s call on my life continued to expand and would now include the preaching ministry.

So in August of 1992 Jana and I moved back to Richmond where she again worked while I studied for the Master of Divinity degree at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Virginia. My seminary studies were marked by two significant experiences. One summer in Richmond I completed Clinical Pastoral Education at the Medical College of Virginia which required intense interaction with people from different cultures in situations of life and death at the downtown Richmond Memorial Hospital, a 1000 bed facility. This training left me well equipped to provide pastoral care in difficult circumstances. A seminary sponsored tour of the Middle East – including Jordan, Syria, Egypt and Israel – rooted my faith more deeply in the common vine of divine revelation that connects Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Upon graduation from seminary I accepted a call to serve as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Kennett, Missouri and was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in September of 1994. The Kennett Church had some talented members such as the rock star, Sheryl Crow, whose career flowered during my pastorate there. These fruitful days included the birth of our two children, Jennifer and Jackson, and work toward my Doctor of Ministry degree from Memphis Theological Seminary.

In 1999 I accepted a call to serve as Head of Staff at Batesville Presbyterian Church which grew from 285 to 325 members during my tenure here. We tripled the size of the contiguous church property by purchasing two additional lots adjacent to our main facility. As the people responded to my leadership the church grew younger until now 33% of the members are under 22 years old and 66% of our congregation is under the age of 44 years. I was an active leader in the presbytery where I moderated a task force that started a successful educational event that has trained hundreds of Presbyterian Church officers, church school teachers and church members from across Northern Mississippi.

We are now living in Houston, Texas, near the Galleria in an old suburb called Westbury. Jackson (15 years old) and Jennifer (13 years old) are loving their schools. Although the location and atmosphere of our neighborhood, church and school feel somewhat like a small town, Houston is the 4th largest city in the US and the diversity of the people is remarkable and inspirational.

We are all enjoying St. John's Presbyterian Church where I am serving as Pastor. The church is active in local and international missions and in the presbytery. The congregation is very diverse with members from all over the US and the world. Several members are originally from Africa and few of the people are native Houstonians. The congregation is informal and unpretentious. We feel like the church is a good fit for our family.

Now that you know more about me and my journey I invite you to visit my church and share your faith journey with me and with us. We are an inclusive congregation and you will be warmly welcomed upon your visit. You may also follow me via my blog. Thank you for your time and interest in reading more about me. Keep in touch!