Born in Cleveland and raised in Olmsted Falls, the rhythms of rural life in a small town shaped the early years for me. One school for all the grades, bass fishing on a farm pond, knowing and being known by everyone. Feeling safe, feeling at home. The Community Church that grew out of a union of the Congregational and Methodist churches was the perfect faith experience and preparation for pastoring the Dingletown Community Church. In that faith community one’s individual beliefs were welcomed and explored. There was acceptance and encouragement for me to continue to deepen and grow in faith.
Heidelberg College was not unlike the small town experience of childhood. The college, now a university, provided an intellectual community that encouraged one to explore and grow. This led me to the Merrill Palmer Institute of Human Development and Family life in Detroit, Michigan, where a love of psychology and a curiosity about human behavior was further developed and explored.
The Peace Corps was next. Teaching English in Ivory Coast, West Africa further expanded the exploration of the vast diversity of human life and behavior. Being surrounded by calls to prayer seven times a day provided an opportunity to re-examine my own faith-life and yearning to learn more about Jesus, who seemed to me to be a very wise and very skilled psychologist, among other things.
Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University seemed to be the next logical place for further study and personal growth. Thinking it would be a good foundation for further explorations in psychology, something happened along the way. I found in theological study and practice in a parish there was a deeper truth and motivation that had the power to change and transform human life as no psychological theory could. So two master degrees later (Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology) off to parish ministry I went. Serving churches in up-state New York, Connecticut, and finally 13 plus years at Church of the Redeemer (UCC) in New Haven.
Preaching, pastoral counseling, hospital ministry all seemed to bring me back where I started, wanting to further explore the how’s and why’s of human behavior, why do some people change for the better while others who say they would like to, don’t or can’t. Further study at Southern Connecticut State University, a Master’s in Social Work which led to a doctorate in ministry from Boston University. I explored ministry as a social worker, addiction counselor, hospital emergency room psychologist and evaluator.
All of which led to a return to parish ministry in a non-denominational community church. Dingletown is a place where laughter and tears and truth are tolerated and welcomed. Dingletown, a place where questions are encouraged and answers are explored rather than imposed. Dingletown, a welcoming church where are all affirmed and welcomed with open arms. A place that knows love can heal and empower and stand us up-right again for the living of our days.