There are pros and cons to the United States being a cultural melting pot. One con is that often people struggle with personal identity. Questions of sexual, gender, and racial identity have been prevalent in the news lately. With a million communities out there and countless cultures and sub-cultures, many hop from one to the next trying to find a meaning and significance to life which is congruent with their nascent personal identity. Increasingly, people want to just feel accepted and feel like they belong, belong to something, belong to anything. I sympathize with these feelings. Speaking as a pastor, I find that faith in Christ and fellowshipping with a Christian faith community is a powerful avenue toward identity formation. Everything done in the name of faith, whether it is worship, study, loving service to others, sharing our faith, prayer, meditation, (you name it!) all work toward building our identity as new creations and beloved children of God. My role as pastor is to cultivate and nourish this spiritual identity formation. The more we have a confident sense of ourselves in today’s society of jumbled ideas and cultures, the more content we will be with life. I am convinced of this, which is why I feel so fortunate being a pastor.
It has been a wonderful experience to come back and get reacquainted to what I consider to be my church home. Now that I’ve settled in a bit I wanted to give a bit more information about my philosophy and emphases as a pastor. Since age 18 I have had a strong interest in the scriptures, particularly historical criticism of the New Testament. My Masters of Arts in theology focused primarily on the study of Jesus and the gospels. Later on, as I was pursuing my Masters of Divinity, I was looking for a way to incorporate the more academic stuff I learned in my Masters of Arts degree into a philosophy of pastoral ministry. What I discovered is that the Bible, in all its complexity, offers the reader the prospect of a new identity—the identity of how God sees us as opposed to how the world sees us. Through our faith, the Holy Spirit impresses that new identity on our hearts. I view the role of pastor as being one who teaches parishioners about and encourages parishioners to live into that identity. We learn about that identity through adult education opportunities like bible studies. Our identity is enhanced when we, as a church, engage in fellowship and worship activities with one another. And it is out of that identity that we seek to partner with the neighborhood to do ministry. Therefore, my role as pastor is one of integrating all the diverse things we do as Christians under the umbrella of identity. From a relational standpoint, this also means that I am available to be comforter, encourager, and counselor to the congregation and to simply be present to you when needed. I look forward to the years ahead of journey and growing together.