Since 2000, I have been serving as Senior Pastor of the Grace Church of Harmony in Harmony, Pennsylvania, 30 miles north of Pittsburgh. Our congregation, where I minister alongside two other talented DTS grads, Eric Rodes and Nick Prugar (ThM 07), has proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this community for over 200 years. On my office wall hangs a framed list of all my pulpit predecessors since 1826, a cloud of witnesses reminding me that I stand in a godly heritage of men who taught the Bible as they lived by faith in God's promises; the dates recorded by their names impressing upon me that only three senior pastors have served this church in the past 72 years, David Goetschius (DTS 1961) from 1965-2000 and Loran Veith from 1941-1965, a testimony to a blessed stability rarely seen in the modern evangelical maelstrom. I would describe our fellowship as a classic Protestant congregation where we do not attempt to razzle-dazzle anyone into the Kingdom of God, but find our identity and purpose in historic Christianity through straighforward Bible teaching, recitation of creeds, scripture readings, collective confession and prayer intermixed with contemporary and traditional hymns. We express the love of Christ to our church family and to our local community through an active Sunday School, AWANA, adoption fund, Stephen Minister ministry, Game Dinner outreach, personal support of the local food cupboard, Lenten Luncheons, nursing home visitation, and a variety of other types of Christian service formal and informal.
My fondest memories from my DTS days revolve around laughing with my friends. I went through Dallas Seminary as a single man, so most of my memories revolve around Lincoln Hall, one of the single men's dorms, and its illustrious inhabitants. On Thursday evenings, we would hold an "Artists' Series" night in the cafeteria, sort of a glorified talent show, when some of the guys would perform everything from interpretive dance (frightening), barbershop quartet, revised country songs addressing exegetical paper woes instead of broken hearts, poetry readings, and a bunch of other zany acts. We laughed until our sides ached! I should mention that, during much of that time, I worked in the cafeteria in a variety of occupations ranging from dishwasher to drink dispenser to floor mopper to salad chef. In one of my less-known assignments, I would soak the slightly-brown lettuce in a mixture of water and potato-whitener to remove the effects of oxidation, so the lettuce would make for a better presentation on the salad bar. I should also mention how much I enjoyed sitting in Dr. Norm Geisler's classes studying first principles, epistemology, and apologetics. More than once, his son invited a few of us from the dorm over to the Geisler house where we sat in the outdoor hot tub feasting on Mrs. Geisler's homemade pizza. Those were the days!
Biblical instruction stands out to me as the greatest contribution DTS has made to prepare me for pastoral ministry. Not only did I acquire a treasury of helpful Bible knowledge, but I was given the tools and the resources to keep on digging for answers to my questions.