“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NRSV)
This image serves as a stark reminder of my parents’ love for me and that they raised me in faith. More than that, it captures the very moment that God staked God’s claim on my life through the sacrament of baptism. This was the beginning of my 46-year journey along a winding road of grace.
|The day we left Hawaii.|
|Years later when my grandmother brought my Dad’s seabag down from the attic.|
|My Dad and me when I was a cadet officer in Green Run High School’s NJROTC unit.|
As often happens, however, my path took some rather unexpected turns. And so, instead of following in my Dad’s footsteps as an officer, I enlisted in the Navy as a submariner…the same way his career began.
|My Dad swearing me into the Navy on June 2, 1991.|
The Navy connection my Dad and I shared continued for several years.
|On my way to Basic Enlisted Submarine School in 1991.|
|The day of my Dad’s retirement ceremony in 1998, after nearly 30 years of naval service.|
By the time I separated from service myself in 1999, the Navy had been an integral part of my identity for 28 years of my life.
|My last official photograph.|
In the years since my naval service, God has been at work in my life through the United Methodist Church. For more than eleven years now, I have sought to faithfully live into God’s calling by serving the local church, studying in seminary, and submitting myself to the rigor of ordination in my denomination.
The past five years, in particular, have helped mold me and shape me as I have served as an associate pastor at Trinity UMC in Gainesville. The love, encouragement, and support I have received from the congregation and staff, as I have sought to grow in my faith and as a pastor, has been all I could have hoped for and more.
|My commissioning as a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church.|
This past summer, I began to sense God calling me to a new season of ministry, in an altogether new direction – Navy Chaplaincy.
“Who are these particular people, and how can I be with them in such a way that they can become what God is making them?’ My job is simply to be there, teaching, preaching Scripture as well as I can, and being honest with them, not doing anything to interfere with what the Spirit is shaping in them.”1
Some of the details about where all this will ultimately lead remain unclear. For now, I know I will be continuing my pastoral ministry at Trinity while fulfilling my naval reserve obligations in Jacksonville during my appointed weekends. I also know that the next step on my journey travels through Fruitland Park, FL, on January 22nd at 6:30pm when I interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry, seeking their recommendation for ordination in full-connection.
No matter where God leads me and my family from here, of this much I am certain – it will be the greatest honor and privilege to wear both the cloth of my nation as an officer in the United States Navy and the cloth of my faith tradition as a representative of the United Methodist Church in the Navy Chaplain Corps. To God be the glory.