Lord’s blessings to all at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church, as well as the parents and students of Grace Lutheran School!
In the season of Advent, which takes place (as usual in the Church Year) in December, the theme of the ‘coming’ One is always emphasized in a threefold manner. Advent is a repentant time that focuses us on the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s about His first coming when the Holy Spirit overshadowed the Virgin and the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took up our frail flesh and became one of us. It’s about His gracious continual coming now, that is, in His Word and Sacraments. And it’s about being prepared for His imminent, glorious coming again on the Last Day in Judgment.
His prophetic Name is Emmanuel. It is Hebrew for "God is with us." He is the God who comes; the God who is actively involved in His creation; the God who intervenes in the course of history to bring about His plan of salvation and good works; the God who is intimately aware of His children, their every need and their every joy. Rejoice, indeed, He is the God who comes! Along this Advent vein of ‘coming,’ I write my first Grace Notes article as the new incoming Pastor. For those who were not able to make it to my installation on Sunday November 4th I thought it appropriate to have my first article be an opportunity for you to read about my background (my apologies to those who did attend, for this will be repeated material to you).
I was born and raised in Painesville, Ohio, a suburb 30 miles east of Cleveland. My mother (Helen) still lives in that general area. My father (+ John), after a 6th month battle with colon cancer, was fully sainted in the summer of 1990. I have a sister (Susan) and a brother (Tim), but both of my parents were married before, so there are also 6 half-brothers of whom I remain close (+ Bob, Richard, Allen, Mike, +Dennis, & Joe). I received my Bachelor's Degree from Ohio University in Communications in the fall of 1990.
While in college I began attending an ELCA church and eventually received the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Shortly after graduating from OU I moved to Orlando, Florida and worked in the TV/Film industry for 8 years. After this I moved to Los Angeles, California and worked in the TV/Film industry for another two years. While there I began to attend an LCMS church and had revealed to me how this blessed church body held so firmly to sound Biblical theology and doctrine through the Lutheran Confessions. The importance of proper Biblical teaching then became the focus in my life. I was encouraged by my Pastor (Rev. Forester) to attend Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and through the Christ-centered education given there my doctrinal focus was fueled even more.
After my second year at the Seminary I was selected to study at Westfield House in Cambridge England for a year. The following year I was assigned a vicarage at Trinity Lutheran Church in Norman, Oklahoma. While there I met my wife Kelli (she attended Trinity). Kelli and her sister (Jamie) were raised Missouri-Synod Lutherans in the little town of Elkhart Kansas by their mother (Ramona) and step-father (Bob). Ramona has been the church organist there for over 45 years. Sadly, their father (+ Richard) was fully sainted in December of 2008. Kelli attended Hutchinson on a volleyball scholarship for two years, and then transferred to Oklahoma University where her sister played basketball, eventually staying in Norman attempting to complete her studies at OU.
Kelli and I were joined together by God’s hand in Holy Matrimony on July 22, 2006. The seminary thought it would be best for us to complete another vicarage as a married couple. That vicarage was completed at Trinity Lutheran Church in Des Moines, Iowa. While there God gave to us one of the most wonderful blessings to date - our daughter Phoebe Marie - born July 9th, 2008. She is now four and is very much looking forward to beginning parochial school at Grace Lutheran.
After finalizing my education at Concordia Theological Seminary I received a Call to the Office of the Holy Ministry at Our Savior Lutheran Church in Stevensville Montana where I served for three and a half years. By God’s grace I had the pleasure of faithfully preaching and teaching God’s Word, rightly administering the Sacraments, and carrying out proper practices that boldly reflect what we believe, teach, and confess as Lutherans; I now look forward to doing the same for the saints at Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in San Mateo.
Continuing in the theme of Advent there is another ‘coming’ that we now look forward to as a family: during the summer we were blessed by the Lord to be the parents of a second child. Kelli is expecting the birth of Samuel John in the third week of February, but we’ll wait and see what God’s has in mind when it comes to His timing.
The Lord be with you through these repentant Advent and joyous Christmas seasons.
With you IN Christ Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria