To my new friends at PTCUMC! I’m so excited (and grateful!) to get to be your new Lead Pastor. I know it wasn’t something you were expecting, neither was I, but what an opportunity! This church is well known and respected in the Conference and it’s quite the honor to be appointed here. In this regard I have you at an advantage. So with this newsletter, let me try to balance it out.

I’m originally from SW Ohio (about 40 minutes west of Dayton, 70 minutes north of Cincinnati – WHO DEY!). I grew up in a small town, think “Mayberry,” and worked mowing yards in my tweens and early teens finally getting a job at the local Orchard where I learned and did just about all you can imagine doing with regard to growing all kinds of fruit and some vegetables, but especially apples. Growing up I played baseball, basketball, ran track and played football but as I got to High school, that narrowed to basketball and football. I eventually was recruited and played football for the Division II Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers in Owensboro, Kentucky.

College changed my life – in fact, everything changed in those years. I got married after my freshman year and started serving churches as a student pastor the year after that. I fell in love with learning and ended up going to school for 5 years so I could double-major: Religion/Philosophy & Psychology; and minor, Sociology. (There isn’t room on my college transcript for any more classes; they run down into the fine print.)

Then through a number of God-events I headed to Georgia and the Candler School of Theology at Emory University and the person most responsible was the late, Rev. Jim Mitchell, who later baptized all three of my boys. During my time there my ex-wife and I had our first son, Christopher (now almost 23) and the churches I was serving, Zebulon and Concord UMCs, grew enough to support a full-time pastor.

I stayed there in Pike County for five years during the course of which I know I was on the old PTCUMC campus at least once, if not twice for District events. So impressive. To think one day, I might have the opportunity to pastor a church like that… and now God has called me to pastor that church!

It was also at that time that I got to know Rev. Clay Jacobs who is the person most responsible for my becoming a church planter. That story has pages of details but during the next 10 years Clay became more than a supervisor or Conference representative; he became a mentor and friend. I grieve his early departure from this side of eternity.

In short, the plan was for me to go to Hillside UMC in Woodstock Georgia, learn “big church” for a couple years while also studying church planting and ultimately recruit a launch team and start a new baby church. It was a couple of the best years of both my life and ministry. Truly happy times. My ex-wife and I had our second son, Isaiah (now 20) and the Senior Pastor, Rev. Dr. Richard Hunter became a mentor and friend and most recently we’ve worked together on a District Committee. His advice has been a blessing through the years and when he told me recently, “Chris, I’d like to be on your staff” it was a true honor.

I started CITY ON A HILL UMC in 2006 and pastored there for 12 years. I won’t even begin to describe the mammoth amount of God-stories and growth and challenges in that time. It’s also when my third son was born, Jacob (now 14) and also when my marriage of 20 years came to an end in 2015. I experienced the next three years as a single dad with three boys, each in a different school (one in Elem, another in Middle and the oldest in High school). It was tough keeping up with everything, but those years held their own gifts in that pain and sacrifice.

It was also at that point that I met Kara and developed a friendship that turned into something more. She’s my best friend to this day as well as my wife. She was on a mission trip with me in Nicaragua when I got the call that I would be appointed to Ringgold UMC. She wasn’t happy.

After being a church planter for a dozen years I wondered about whether or not I could go back to a more “institutional” church. To my great surprise and delight I was met with success and though the last six years were without question the most difficult in ministry for a plethora of reasons, they were also the most blessed. It was at the mid-point of my time there, after being a single dad for 6 years that Kara and I got married and “my three” and “her two” (Cole, 18 and Sam, 14) turned into “our five,” a basketball team. Ironically for a while we all were playing basketball together at the church on Thursday nights (all five boys and I, not Kara).

Of course there is so much, much more to tell about all of this, but at least now you have a general idea of where I come from in a similar manner to which I am generally aware of the last five decades of PTCUMC (ironically, the church and I are almost the same age; I’m a couple years younger.)

In the future, you’ll share much more with me and I with you and together we get to write the new story of the future. How about we make it a good…no a great one?!

Grateful for the chance…Prayerful,