I’m a native of Rochester, N.Y. My spiritual roots are in the Catholic tradition. I often say, “I have 16 years of Catholic education and now I’m a Methodist minister. I know God has a sense of humor!” I was a single parent for many years, and worked on the maintenance staff of a small college, earning my bachelor’s degree in evening school. I am very grateful for that opportunity to obtain a college education.
Much of my professional experience is in health care, first as an alcoholism counselor and later as a mental health nurse. During my health care career I kept sensing a desire to be more directly involved in pastoral care. It eventually led to ordination in the United Methodist Church, including endorsement as a chaplain in the Civil Air Patrol, United States Air Force Auxiliary.
My wife, Georgia Whitney, was born in Georgia and reared there and in Florida. She moved to New York in her early twenties and now calls Western New York her home. Georgia is a professional writer. Besides her own writing business, she coordinates several aspects of the Imagine No Racism initiative for the Upper New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
We’ve been married almost thirty years and have three children between us, two daughters and our late son. Our children have each blessed us with two grandchildren. They range in age from nine to twenty-five. We are also the proud owners of nine-year-old Rox, the world’s greatest pit bull. But we’re not partial or anything!
In my 20 years of pastoral ministry I have learned that there is no one “formula” for gaining disciples for Jesus Christ. What I think is most compelling is to simply tell the story of our own relationship with God – its ups and downs, joys and concerns – in short, to be real.
I believe that if you listen carefully to each person’s story, you’ll hear echoes of the Wesleyan notions of prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace. God starts working in our lives long before we ever become aware of it. That’s prevenient grace. God helps us to see that we can’t do anything to make God love us more, or less, than God already does. And God loves each and every one of us infinitely! That’s justifying grace. Finally, God encourages (and nudges) us to grow, to become all that we are created to be through our everyday life experiences, the influence of the church and beyond. That’s sanctifying grace. And I believe it’s an ongoing process. God’s not finished with us yet. Thanks be to God who shows us how much we are loved through Jesus Christ. Peace to you all!