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Spiritual Autobiography

Documenting why I am now part of the Anglican church is part of the point of this website. Knowing where I've come from, what I've come through, will hopefully relate to some of your experieinces. If I can find what I didn't know I was looking for, you can too.

Spiritual Autobiography
Photo by Patrick Fore / Unsplash

Part of the process of pursuing ordination as a Deacon in the Diocese of Cascadia is writing a spiritual autobiography. What follows is a somewhat edited version of what I originally wrote and submitted for my process in early 2021. Some church names were changed for objectivity reasons, and some updates were added.

Why am I including it here, and why is it so long? Well, I'm about to turn 50. I've been through some stuff and it's all a part of the story. Documenting why I am now part of the Anglican church is part of the point of this website. Knowing where I've come from, what I've come through, will hopefully relate to some of your experieinces. If I can find what I didn't know I was looking for, you can too.

Growing Up

When I was born, my dad was 16 and my mom was 17. Neither of them came from particularly religious homes. While abortion became legal that year, everyone agreed that that was not an option. My parents did marry before I was born as they really were in love albeit teen love. My sister was born three years later.

We weren’t raised anything, yet we were raised to be very moral and respectful. This despite the fact that my parents smoked pot and my dad was a professional musician (from an early age) around the Portland, OR area. Both parents worked hard and were dedicated to providing for their children as best as they could. My grandmother on my dad’s side was also very involved in our lives and practically a third parent.

When I was 7 my parents divorced. My parents shared custody of my sister and I. We all still gathered for family events. For whatever reasons they kept taking turns living in the family home (owned by my grandmother, something I learned later in life). My dad eventually got into practically every drug available in the 70s and 80s.

When I was in 7th grade, my dad became a Christian. He hit rock bottom after a gig while getting ready to snort some cocaine and watching a televangelist for fun. In that moment, God got His hands on him, and he simply prayed, “God, if you’re real, I’m yours.” He was all in after that.

Within a year my mom also became a Christian and my parents re-married each other (my wife’s parents have almost the same story). My dad used his music skills to eventually become a worship leader. He got a job as a janitor at the church for a while and also started teaching the new believers class, helping to develop the curriculum. When I was a senior in high school, my dad was asked to plant a church. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Following Christ

When I was in Middle School, dad started going to what we will call Church A, which was (and is) a church of several thousand people. He started making me go to the Middle School youth ministry which had 75+ kids by itself. At first I was resistant. I’m introverted by nature so group stuff was not attractive to me. I do not have a clear memory of a turning point or change of heart, exactly. I do remember my assigned small group leader (a young man named Troy who would die a year later in a car wreck) asked me if I wanted to follow Jesus. I simply said yes, and he prayed with me. From then on, I believed what I was taught, I invited friends to church, I knew Jesus in a very Middle-Schooler way.

It was in Middle School ministry at church that I met a girl named Jessica. We “dated” for two weeks then broke up. More on this later.

I was very, very active in the High School ministry (300+ kids). I was baptized at summer camp between my Freshman and Sophomore years. Two friends and I taught a class in children’s church. My social world was at church, not at school. The friends I grew up with backed way off the more involved I got with church.

In the Fall of 1991 I started at the University of Washington as a Music Education major. My goal was to teach high school band class. As a senior in high school, if there was a sub teacher in band, they just had me lead rehearsal. The choir teacher had me direct concerts because she wasn’t a confident director. I directed some pieces in the all-city orchestra when we were on a tour. Directing involved teaching. I loved teaching. I didn’t love telling people facts or what to do. More accurately, I loved helping people learn and discover for themselves. I loved helping people experience what they are doing, if that makes sense. When I played in band in school, I loved the experience of making music with other people (though I didn’t love playing, per se). I wanted to be the band teacher who helped at least some kids experience that.

I knew I needed to plug into a church. Church A was affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement (loosely) so it made sense to find a similar church. I started attending and eventually volunteering at Church B in Seattle. In the Spring of 1992 they hosted a weekend conference called “Signs of the Times.” While there was an element of looking at Bible prophecy in light of current events, I took three things away from that conference:

  • The Bible is an integrated design from a very creative mind. Prophecy is not just prediction, it is also pattern. God consistently uses patterns throughout the Bible to communicate the gospel.
  • There are methods I can use to personally study the Bible. I can make the Bible my “hobby” in a sense. If I am a student of the Bible I’m also a student of God Himself; a disciple.
  • My calling was not to be a music teacher, but to be a Bible teacher. More specifically, equipping people both with God’s word from my own study and teaching, and helping people do that on their own in order to directly hear from The Lord for themselves.

At this point something changed. There was a change of heart and “countenance.” I started to study Romans with the tools and methods  I heard about at the conference (basically it was Inductive Bible Study). As I did that, friends who were more mature in the Lord and involved with Campus Crusade with me asked me, “Are you studying Romans?” Somehow, they could tell. When I finished that I went on to Hebrews and it happened again; “Are you studying Hebrews?” I started having a-ha moments. God’s Spirit was illuminating me as I studied His word. It was like a high and I wanted other people to have it.

At the time, I thought that the way one did this was to become a pastor of a church. It was all new and different thinking. When I started my second year at UW I switched from Music Ed to Communications. As some kind of call to ministry became more clear to myself and others, I decided to move back home and keep up school at the local community college until I had a plan.

Marriage and Ministry

In January of 1993, on my first night back at Church A, I saw Jessica from Middle School Ministry. (While her parents made her attend youth group through high school, we didn’t talk to each other as we went to different schools and at that time she had zero interest in Jesus.) She had also attended UW. In fact we saw each other on campus a couple of times (out of 36,000 people!). After church one of us approached the other (we can’t agree on who) and for some reason we just hugged. A few weeks later we both helped shuttle back a school bus the church had rented. On that car trip we had THE talk. Over the past year of school she had her own come-to-Jesus experiences and felt called to some kind of ministry. She decided to go through a YWAM Discipleship Training School for some direction. We also dated over the course of this time.

If I was going to be a pastor (in order to teach the Bible and equip people) I needed to go to Bible school. Accredited schools were way too expensive. Calvary Chapel had a two-year Bible school and ministry training program and it was affordable. Since they would teach what I thought I would need to know, I decided to go there in the Fall. In fact, Jess and I got engaged in May and went off to school together. Our marriage would be one devoted to ministry. We got married while at Bible College. We were 20 and 21 (I’m older).

Over the course of our lives together I have worked either in the IT field or in ministry. The Lord has always provided. We raised two sons, the older is married and is a musician, and the younger has his Master in Music Education (go figure). There is much more to the story of our marriage and the story has just entered a new chapter. When Jess was in Bible College, her emphasis was counseling. Now she is certified as a Spiritual Director, and I’m pursuing ordination as an Anglican priest. As of October of 2022 I am an ordained Deacon. How did we get here?!

Evangelical Pastoral Ministry

This did not turn out to be what I thought it would be in two main ways:

  • It was not the environment I thought or hoped it would be.
  • People did not want what I thought or hoped they would want.

I blame myself. One thing I’ve learned is that wrong expectations always produce undesired results. In college, I was called to be a Bible teacher, an equipper, a discipler. My mistake was equating that to being the pastor of a church. More specifically, the pastor of an American-evangelical-style church. In the circles I ran in, that meant someone who was gregarious, someone who schmoozed, an entrepreneur, a Type-A personality, a Steve Jobs type, at least as he appeared in public. At pastors conferences one of the most common questions was, “How many you runnin’?” The guys ran in packs with alpha-pastors. I know, because I tried to be one of them.

While I was good at relating to and communicating with youth, I was a lousy American evangelical youth pastor. I was an introvert. The last thing I wanted to do was hang out all the time. I didn't even do that when I was in high school. I love discipling students, but I'm not the one you call when you want to go out and do something fun. Unless it's go see a movie and maye donuts after.

While I was good at discipling and counseling adults, and teaching (not preaching) the Bible in an engaging way that people could connect with and learn from, I was a lousy American evangelical pastor. I am an introvert. I don’t need to shake everyone’s hand, see how they are doing, talk about sports-ball games, or go camping with people. I will listen to someone cry and bare their soul, and I will cry and bare my own soul if it means helping someone grow though something. I will go the extra hundred miles to help someone in need. But, as an introvert, I don’t need relationships with a large number of people. And that’s what people wanted. It's what they expected.

While I absolutely believe in the sovereignty of God, objectively, looking back, I think it was a mistake for me to become a pastor in light of what I believe I was called to be. You can be a discipler, equipper, Bible teacher and not be an American evangelical pastor. (Unfortunately, these days, you can be a pastor and not be a discipler, equipper, and Bible teacher.) Having said that, with everything we have been through, we wouldn’t be where we are, and we wouldn’t know what we know.

One of my favorite quotes is from author Mike Breen (himself a former Church of England Vicar);

“When you build the church, you don’t always get disciples. But when you build disciples, you always get the church.”

The first time I read that statement, the problems I saw with my experiences became crystal clear. All of my training and influences had focused on building the church up in such a way that it would draw people and, if you were lucky, a small percentage might actually want to seriously follow Jesus while the rest stuck aroud. I knew nothing else. I saw nothing else. But all I really wanted was to get to the people who were “leaning forward,” who were already interested and ready to be engaged. I was tired of the literal song and dance I had to do as a pastor to find such people.

One of the axioms at a church at which I was employed, was this; keep the cookies on the bottom shelf. This meant that everything should be easily accessible and consumable. This church was 40+ years old, it’s founding pastor was one of the best Bible teachers in the country, and it consisted almost entirely of people on a steady diet of cookies, because the process of growing people beyond that is not “sexy” (their word). There was no path from “milk” to “meat.” When I was asked to create one, they said "nevermind" and asked me to back cookies. Less than a year later I was given the option of being fired, or I could resign. I resigned and I couldn’t tell people why. I couldn’t tell them that their leadership would rather keep them fat and happy than risk them leaving for somewhere else because numbers equals success and God's blessing. This is Biblically untrue.

That isn't bitterness, it's disapointment and frustration. People who look for and go to a church because they like the music or the preacher are fans of church. Churches that operate like this are basically fan clubs. People who want to intentionally model their lives after Jesus and his teaching are followers. Churches that facilitate that process are the Body of Christ.

Getting Here

We knew we needed community. We knew we needed to be a part of a body somewhere. Over the next four years (2016-2020) we tried the handful of churches in town that weren’t exactly like the one we just came from.

  • One of them had a very narrow “on-ramp” to getting involved but we loved their emphasis on discipleship and compassion (living outward, not inward).
  • One of them had a Sunday service built around a kind of “liturgy lite” and also included the kind of Bible teaching we liked.  We tried to get connected. We even went to the church camp-out (way outside of my comfort zone) and we were largely ignored.
  • At the last evangelical church we went to I got very connected because, on the surface, the pastor emphasized the same things we thought were right, and de-emphasized the same stuff we didn’t. In fact, it got to a point where I realized that he was me, four to five years behind the process. He was doing what I did, trying what I tried, with the same lack of growth in any sense. I knew how that was going to go.

We decided that we were done with what we were used to. Jess wanted to try an Episcopal church, but I was not keen on that as I knew what they had been going through and their views on sexuality and the Bible. A guy I knew who runs a blog that I frequent had recently embraced Anglicanism. All that I knew about it was that it was more or less the Church of England and I wasn’t a fan of that either. But my friend leaned Biblically conservative and I knew he wouldn’t embrace a more liberal view of scripture. I started asking him how he got to where he is and he suggested I read “The Anglican Way” by Fr. Thomas McKenzie.

I was blown away. What McKenzie described about what the church was supposed to be and look like was exactly what I had been trying to get to over my entire adult life, except he was able to put it into words. This led me to investigate the Anglican Church of North America (ACNA) and I liked what I read. I checked out the only ACNA church in our town, Iona Community Anglican Church. I listened to some of Fr. Bob’s teaching and I loved it. Simple, Biblical, encouraging, and honest. He wasn’t presenting, or preaching, just, sharing his heart and God's.

We visited a few times and had lunch with Bob and his wife Sami (they have since retired as the priest of that church but we remain close friends). We all connected immediately sharing life and ministry stories. There were many parallels. At some point I told Bob that in the past I’ve had a tendency to jump in to being active with both feet, setting high expectations for myself and others too fast and too soon. I didn’t want to do that this time, especially since the liturgical worship and a sacramental perspective were very new to me. I needed time to wrap my head and heart around it all. Plus, I’m very aware that in larger denominations, churches can vary wildly within a tradition. I needed a better sense of what the extremes look like (sounds like a 60s Motown group) in this new community.

Why Ordination

The call on my heart to be a discipler, an equipper, a teacher, has never left me. Nor has it left my wife to do similar things in the ways that she is gifted. We have no need to be in the spotlight. We do, however, have a need to be significant; to make a difference in people’s lives.

Like Joseph in Genesis, I know that I have been through what I’ve been through for a purpose. I want to see that purpose come into being. I also know that I’m not primarily wired to be the pastor that people think of today when the word comes up. I’m not a natural people gatherer. But I am a natural leader of those who want to be led, teacher of those who want to be taught, helper to those who want help, and friend to those who want more than small talk. I would like to draw on 25+ years of ministry experience and serve.

There are also a number of books I’d like to write and materials I’d like to create to equip people to follow Jesus. One I have already created is called The Rhythm Journal, a guided journal to help you walk with God at His pace (end of commercial). As a techy nerd, I’m big on using technology to reach out and equip.

The ACNA feels like my tribe. Listening to Archbishop Beech and his daily devotional podcasts actually feels very familiar to me theologically and otherwise.

Spiritual Growth and Disciplines

I have had bouts of chronic depression and anxiety. It runs in the family. These bouts are almost always connected to times when my focus and my sense of self-worth are drawn away from The Father and put onto something else. In fact, I’m usually mad at God for it. Like Jesus, I have to keep my focus on The Father. The mid-life crisis was and is real, and this focus has never been more tested.

When it comes to disciplines, I find that things become routine and I have to periodically change them up. This was why I created The Rhythm Journal. I wanted a way to be more intentional about observing and developing Christ-like characteristics. Even my own invention became routine after a while though I’m sure I will get back into it.

Some might view getting bored with a particular spiritual discipline as a lack of discipline. I can tell you that ADD is real. To me, having a discipline is itself the discipline, even if it needs to be changed up periodically. Some of the practices/process/tools I have used and reused are,

  • Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, 2019)
  • Sacred Ordinary Days Journal
  • The Rhythm Journal
  • Daily Bible reading plans
  • Personal Bible study
  • Listening to Bible teaching series while traveling
  • I started a podcast that is me reading the collect and scripture readings for the week from the lectionary. I add a short devotional at the end comprised of connections I see in the passages and the collect.
  • A prayer list in the Logos Bible study software.

My current relationship with God is much more free than it has been in the past. What I mean by that is that sometimes our Christian culture says, “This is what a normal relationship with Jesus should look like.” There is a kind of pressure to conform to that cookie-cutter model. It’s the same thing with our culture and temperament. There is this unspoken expectation that to be extroverted is normal and to be introverted is weird but tolerated. I couldn’t disagree more. My relationship with Jesus doesn’t have to look like what Christian pop-culture dictates. This was an outflow from coming to terms with the fact that being a pastor doesn’t have to look like what Christian pop-culture says.

All that to say, I’m much more comfortable than I have ever been in my relationship with God and it’s opening some new doors in that area. It's like breaking through a wall.

Who Is…

God the Father

He is the first among equals in the Godhead. He spoke creation into existence. He is the Lord over all creation. And he is my Father in Heaven.

Jesus Christ

He is the voluntarily cooperative representative of The Father, the second person but also equal in the Godhead. He is the Word, the vehicle through which The Father created everything. He is my Lord and my Savior. He is my Galatians 2:20.

Holy Spirit

He is the breath, the life, the power of God expressed in this world, the third but also equal in the Godhead.  When I cooperate and pay attention, He is the one who makes me useful in building the Kingdom with His power. When I’m in Him and He in me, I’m not in the flesh.

Obstacles, Trials, and Failures

Honestly, there are too many to choose from which is in itself sad and frustrating. I’ll keep it to three.

Not Getting The Job

While I was serving as the youth pastor at one church, I was approached and hired to be a youth pastor at another church. After having resigned the position I had at the time and given notice on our rental house, the day that people from the new church were to drive over with trucks to help us move, the Executive Pastor informed me that they were not going to hire me after all. Why not? All that they would tell me is that they asked my references for other references, and them for other references. At some point, someone said something about me that was severe enough for them to change their minds.

I have always tried my best to be a person of character, to meet the qualifications of Timothy and Titus: have a good reputation, not known as a gossip, and to not have done anything to be accused of that hadn’t been dealt with and corrected.
Now, I was unemployed, about to be homeless, with a wife and two kids under the age of three. I felt abandoned by God. I felt betrayed by someone and I had no idea who. I was trying to follow my calling, go where I thought God wanted me to go, and then I had nothing.

I fell back on my IT skills, got a job in a call center, we moved to an apartment, and I volunteered as a youth pastor at another church. Looking back, trying to be in ministry at this time was a mistake. I was burned out, burned up and I should have just taken time to recover, which we eventually did.

Raising Kids

We lived in Pittsburgh for a few years. While there, our older son broke his femur (twice) due to a cyst that had taken over the bone. Our younger son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. All of this happened at basically the same time. Both of these situations were extremely trying on my wife and I individually, and as a family.

However, as it turns out, Pittsburgh was the best place in the country to get the kind of medical care this kind of bone cyst required, and one of the only states (at the time) that offered services for kids on the Autism Spectrum. If you were going to experience these things, this was the place to be to get the best help.

When I was hired by Church A I thought it was a “for such a time as this” moment. The lead pastor wanted a ministry that would take people deeper. He wanted something that would unify the church. I shared with him everything I had been learning and trying to do at the previous church we closed down and he was very into it. I thought that this was it; I’d have the opportunity to build something that would take the church deeper and provide a path from milk to meat.

I wrote it up, mapped it out, talked with current lay leaders, consolidated all of the information, and I had a plan. I poured my heart and spirit into it because I thought this was the culmination of all that God had taken me through.
Then the lead pastor came into my office and said, “What if we just did sermon discussion questions for the groups?”

I was speechless. I fought hard to hold back tears of frustration and disappointment. I was unsuccessful. I felt as if all of the life had been sucked out of me, because it had been. He saw that I was shaken and left it at that.

As I started to train up some leaders as beta test groups, the church hired a new Executive Pastor. His first project was to take on the ministry area I was overseeing. He cancelled what I was doing and said we are going to use sermon discussion questions for the groups. I died inside. I switched into obedient cooperative mode and just decided to serve as best as I could, but with no life or joy in the work.

While the teaching/lead pastor was/is a well known, charismatic, gregarious communicator that most people seem to enjoy, his preaching offered nothing for someone to feed on. Before coming here he was known as a church planter and an evangelist. He was very effective in those roles. His preaching reflected that gift-set. I think it was a mistake for him to take this position as the lead pastor of an established mega church. Now I was forced to listen to his very predictable sermons and come up with discussion questions to help people grow and make application.

Even in these I was challenged. I would come up with the kind of questions that would make people process through something to get from A to B. For example, “Have you ever experienced what Pastor talked about? What was your initial reaction? Have you every been able to get to result he talked about? Who or what helped you get there?” The Exec Pastor decided he needed to help me come up with questions that were more accessible, more consumable (there’s that word again). Something like, “Share about a time when you experienced what Pastor talked about.” That’s it. All of his questions were like this. I advocated for something that would help people process and bounce wisdom off of each other. He wanted to keep the cookies on the bottom shelf. We came to some compromises, but in the end I wasn’t pastoring, guiding, equipping. I was essentially his administrative assistant in this area.

I was pretty dead and resigned inside. I felt duped by the lead pastor because I wasn’t allowed to do what he said he wanted me to do. I also felt like God was saying, “No, you can’t do what I want you to do. At least not here.” It must have been obvious that I wasn’t engaged because I was asked to resign.

One of the things that this church had new hires do was to take a kind of personality test to help you find your strengths. The area I scored the highest in was what they called The Innovator. This is someone who analyzes a situation and comes up with solutions. They thrive on new challenges. Their weakness is given the responsibilities of maintenance only. That’s exactly what happened to me. When I was creating the new ministry I was in innovator heaven. That got tossed aside and I was saddled with maintenance of someone else’s process, which I believed was not a real solution for the situation. I probably wouldn’t have lasted much longer anyway. If nothing else, I learned about being wired as an Innovator.

After this all went down I read a book by a friend of mine on the subject of discipleship called Talmidim (Paul Clayton Gibbs). In it, he talked about how people deal with changes in their life. Hm. He said that people typically ask what he called "weak" questions when life changes. “What should I do? Where should I go?” Instead he said a disciple should ask the "stronger" question; how can I best be used to build God’s kingdom through this situation? That question probably kept me from spiraling back into depression and anxiety. It’s the question I’ve been pursuing since March of 2016. It’s what has led me to pursue ordination as an Anglican deacond and eventually a priest, Lord willing.

Strength & Struggles


  • The ability to take something complex and make it accessible, relatable.
  • Troubleshooting. It’s not just for computers and the Internet. The same diagnostic skills apply to people’s lives and relationships.
  • Innovation. I love creating things. I love coming up with a solution for a need or problem.
  • The plus sides of being introverted are that I’m naturally slow to speak and quick to listen. I process things before speaking or acting. If there is an area of common interest with someone I can engage them for days.
  • Communication. While I don’t enjoy so much being in a group of people, I do enjoy being in front of a group of people for the purpose of communicating God’s truth, or leading a group exercise/project. I’m an excellent trainer.
  • Counseling/Advising. I like meeting with people who need help working through a situation.
  • Faithfulness. I really admire Joseph in Genesis. I have been through many of what I call “Joseph seasons” of life that require faithfulness in circumstances that are not the end of where God has called me to be.
  • My wife told me to add “sense of humor.”


  • I don’t take/use the authority I have been given by others. One of my elders shared this with me. If I’m in charge, I should be in charge. I usually try to collaborate, probably to a fault. I’m getting better at this in my role as IT Director at a large private school.
  • The negative sides of being introverted are that I don’t speak up when I should sometimes. I can be perceived to be a person who lacks ambition or a person who is not action-oriented. I also find small talk very draining and can come across as distant.
  • Donuts.

Family & Ordination

Having been ordained in other churches, this isn’t anything new. My kids are grown. My wife is supportive. We have always had ministry at the center of our marriage in principle if not in practice.

Present Ministry

By occupation, I’m the IT Director at a private Christian preK-12 school in Vancouver, WA. I have two full-time assistants. Together we serve 1,000+ students, 150+ staff, and all of the technology in every classroom and office, not to mention supporting the various online software platforms used in education. I have found what could be considered pastoral opportunities with my coworkers. I’ve had the chance to be an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, an encourager, and advisor. There is plenty of ministry to do in a Christian organization.

By calling, in October of 2022 I was ordained as a Deacon in the Diocese of Cascadia, in the ACNA. I am currently leading the Sunday morning worship gathering at Christ Our Hope Anglican Church in Olympia, WA, until they find a new Priest. “Olympia? Really? Don’t you live in Ridgfield?” Yup, it’s an 80 minute commute one-way. But that’s where The Lord has me.

We are also in the early stages of finding and inviting people to our home for Evening Prayer on Saturday nights beginning November 24th. I am pursuing ordination as a Priest as we believe the community of Ridgfield could be well served by an Anglican Church. I envision keeping my full-time IT job while also serving in this ordained capacity.

Last updated 10/27/2022