Shortly after Ellen and I were at a pretty comfortable place in married life, we saw God beginning to tie up the narrative and close out the chapter of life and ministry that we were experiencing. This was both thrilling and challenging for us. We were leaving a place of comfort and care at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee and moving to the last place we ever thought we would - Columbus, Mississippi.
We didn’t know that Columbus existed and we had very few connections to Mississippi. However, we knew that God was leading us and we were met with a group of people who were gracious and kind, full of the compassion and care that we would require in order to grow our family. Mt Vernon Church under the leadership of Jeff James took a big risk on a young Worship Leader from Florida. They gave me the opportunities to succeed in encouragement and even made defeat feel as gentle and soft as it possibly could. I learned a great deal from Jeff James and continue to gain wisdom from him as we remain close friends.
While at Mt Vernon, our family grew. Madelyn was born in August of 2010 and Jude was born in November of 2013. We had accessible people in our lives who were ready and willing to give us meals, advice and encouragement. These people loved our kids in the unique way that a church family does. Because of them, Ellen and I were able to continue dating each other and growing our marriage. Through our relationships with other families, Madelyn had the opportunity to meet her first best friends.
One particular chapter that was difficult for us was the loss of my father. In October of 2011, our church expressed love to us in a multitude of ways. I recall kind cards, emails, texts, flowers and the 16 hour round trip drive of four men to simply give us a 5 minute hug as we stood in the visitation line. Few things in my life have humbled me to the degree of that act of kindness and compassion.
While at this amazing place, we have had the opportunity to develop life-long friendships. By way of the Air Force, we have seen friends come to Columbus and move away. Many of them with whom we share the commonality of being aliens to Mississippi who experienced great care from the natives. Our church staff are like family to us. We’ve grown to know them in the unique way that comes from long hours of sacrifice and love. Josh and I were able to serve together for a second time and create services that were creative and risky, exciting and passionate. This team excels, works hard and loves the people of Columbus deeply. They are forever a part of our lives.
TrueNorth Church is located in North Augusta, South Carolina. It’s just across the Savannah River from Augusta, Georgia - so close that the two feel like one town. TNC is under the leadership of a great group of people who care deeply about connecting with the unchurched. Steve Davis is an amazing lead pastor and I’m excited to walk alongside him as well as the Worship and Production staff to create environments that point to Jesus. One day I’ll spend more time detailing some of the things about TNC that make me the most excited. Things like excellent programs, passionate leaders, tremendous growth and amazing life change. I feel honored to be a part of it!
I will lead for the last time at Mt Vernon on January 26th and our family will transition to North Augusta in February to begin an exciting new chapter as we do our best to glorify God and lift High the name of Jesus.