|Ashland Theological Seminary|
We had barely begun our first term of study when I saw a list in the student center of churches seeking student pastors. I had been told for a while not to expect to become a pastor for a while, as churches would not want such a young pastor. I actually did not expect that being in my early 20's in seminary would be such a rare thing. So many of the students were second career, being called to ministry later in life. I figured I at least had to give it a shot as I saw one little church where I just might qualify. I made the call to the local denominational office for the church, The Church of the Brethren.
|Black River Church of the Brethren|
At this time, I also left Wal-Mart to work in a local book store. Now I was full-time in seminary, part-time at the church, and more than part-time as an associate manager at the book store. Oh, yeah - and newly married. I never really took time to think about how busy we were at that time. My quiet times were in place giving me strength from the Lord, my classes were academically and spiritually stimulating, work gave me a chance to be around non-Christians for ministry, and church gave me an outlet for preaching. It was busy, but it was good.
I was at Black River for three years, taking me almost to the end of my time in seminary. Things didn't stay positive for long. I was young and made a lot of mistakes. There were some issues at the church that were not as they should be. I tried to address these issues, sometimes in the right and sometimes in the wrong. I think my biggest mistake was taking all the things I had learned about ministry in my classes and cramming them into this church. The people just weren't ready for it. I was applying new church growth ideas in a 140-year old country church with people who were happy to stay small and keep big city ideas far away. Distance began to grow between me and the people and the people and me. I now see that what I should have done was teach the Word and loved the people.
|Dr. Terry Wardle|
By the time I got to my final year in seminary, I knew my time at Black River was also coming to an end. It wasn't just the tension, it was mostly because my wife and I had always had a burden to minister back in Cleveland. I spent a lot of time looking into different denominations, as I came to discover that The Church of the Brethren, nationally, was more liberal than I thought, and more than I could co-exist with. All of a sudden, all the C&MA connections I had made were coming to the forefront. This denomination, that I had never heard of before college, was capturing my heart. It was the only denomination where I could look through the entire statement of faith and agree with every point.
|A.W. Tozer (C&MA Preacher)|
Dr. Meier called me and asked if I would like to have my resume sent to a church in Cleveland. Could this be the door I had been praying and waiting for?
Read Part 10