Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey to MPC.
I grew up in the suburbs of Sacramento, California. I’ve spent most of my adult life in and around the Sacramento area. I lived for about 15 months in Mesa, Arizona. I’ve been married to my wife, Allyssa, for over 10 years and we have four wonderful children: Cora, Audrey, Carlen and Alden. We also have a dog named Theo.
I started at Fair Oaks Presbyterian in September of 2009. That is where Allyssa and I met. She was working in the Kids Ministry at the time. After a few years of being on staff, they sent me to Seminary to pursue my MDiv from Western Theological Seminary. Once I finished my degree, they called me to be their Assistant Pastor of Families and Groups. I have been incredibly well loved and supported by Fair Oaks Church! Shortly after becoming an Assistant Pastor, our Lead Pastor asked me to pray about whether I felt God was calling me to be a Lead Pastor at some point in my life. After four years of praying together, we determined that the LORD was indeed calling me to be a Lead Pastor!
During the Summer of 2021, he challenged me to begin looking more seriously to what God had called me to do. I found Memorial Park’s posting on the EPC job board and called Greg Wilson. After a conversation about the position and the process, he encouraged me to apply.
How does MPC’s mission—Love People. Know Jesus—resonate with you?
The thing that resonated the most with me in the vision was the order of it: Love people, Know Jesus, Live Transformed; it speaks to a process. We are called to love God’s people. All of them. We can love them regardless of whether they are a part of MPC and whether or not they know Jesus. It is so special that Memorial Park has identified that people can be loved without belonging to the Kingdom or the Church!
What Scripture verses or songs speak to you in a personal way? Explain.
I have always loved two passages of Scripture, Romans 4:18-25 and Esther 4:14.
Romans 4 speaks to me because it brings up the reality of doubt and hopelessness outside of God and what the work of Christ has the power to accomplish in our lives. That our righteousness and salvation are not our own but are given to us because of our faith in Jesus Christ. I love that we cannot work for or earn grace, that Jesus has done everything on our account.
Esther 4 is a powerful passage because it shows the reality of life in the Kingdom of God. All of us have a choice to be a part of what God is doing in our community. We can be active participants in his providential plan. But God does not need us, he can accomplish it without us. Therefore, it is our privilege and joy to join in what God is doing. That we exist where we do, with what we have, for such a time as this.
I have always loved the songs Come Thou Fount and How Deep the Father’s Love for Us.
In what ways does your daily responsibilities impact your view of the world at large and what God is doing in the world?
Being a minister of the word changes the way you view everything. The more time I spend in scripture, the clearer it becomes that Jesus’ mission to “seek and save the lost,” is the same thing we are called to do. Our job, as believers, is to be people of love and reconciliation. We are called to go out and represent love to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Ends of the Earth. To that end, it is important to know that the work of God is personified in the life, ministry and death of Jesus Christ.
Please share an experience or memory that impacted you in an unexpected way.
One of the dearest memories I have is of the ministry of Earl Wallace. He is a Senior at Fair Oaks Church and he volunteered in the Youth Ministry. Every Wednesday night he would show up, cook burgers and hang out in the back of the room during programming. At the end of every night, he would tell everyone to leave the room the way it was. He came back, every Thursday, to clean the room and make sure it was ready for Sunday Morning programming. He did it without recognition for years. He loved those students, the volunteers, and the staff by simply cooking, cleaning and being present. The impact of his ministry was palpable. Through presence alone he was able to model the character of Christ to an entire group of people. His example became one I have tried to emulate: to model Jesus through character and service.
Why do you want to be our next lead pastor?
Memorial Park is a great church in a unique area. My first impression of Memorial Park came from the PNC. They were all so authentic and upfront about what the church was looking for in a Lead Pastor. I remember finishing an interview and being amazed by the candor and character of the PNC. I thought then and there that this could be a special opportunity.
Then I arrived in Pittsburgh. I immediately fell in love with the city, the Allison Park area, and the hospitality of the people. It seemed to confirm what I was feeling about Memorial Park. Then I was shown around the church and to my surprise, it felt like home! This was a church that my whole family could experience worship and scripture!
What are you looking forward to most about coming to Pittsburgh?
I am looking forward to a new adventure, a challenging new position and living out God’s call in my life with the gifts I have been given.
Share something about yourself (interesting, funny, curious) that you would like the congregation to know.
I am color blind! I love games, sports, competition, and books! My Great-Great Grandfather was likely the original “Bozo the Clown.”