Monday, October 09, 2006

Eleven People I'm Starting To Know

As I'm sure most of you know, every Monday I post Ten Things I Think I Think, where I muse wildly about anything and everything. But, now having spent three months with eleven other people who can call themselves members of the Beeson Class of 2006-07, I thought maybe I'd introduce you to them. So, here are the folks that are helping to shape my life, my future, and ultimately, my past.

Name: Alicia Coltzer
Denomination: United Methodist
Hometown: Houston, Texas
Alicia is an immensely gifted pastor ordained in the North Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. For the past five years she's been serving as an associate pastor at Clearlake UMC of Houston, where she's been active leading a contemporary worship as a primary pastor and generally keeping everyone there honest. Alicia is single and our only female Beeson Pastor, which really, in the end, doesn't make much of a difference to any of us. She takes all the crap we give one another, and can dish it right back out. Perky and happy, but not in a shallow way, Alicia is a gifted communicator, which is amazing because she's a graduate of Texas A&M (I didn't even know you needed to know how to read to go there - go figure). Alicia has the privilage of studying in the carrel next to mine, and likes to scare the poo out of me while I'm engrossed in typing while listening to music (I never hear her coming). Upon leaving here next May, Alicia would like to be an associate pastor in a large church that would permit to serve in a church that has been dying, or almost dead, in a part of a city in Texas that is starting to come back to life. Her dissertation topic will focus on the issues surrounding men and women working together on a church staff. She's cool as cool can be.
Name: Jason McIntosh
Denomination: United Methodist
Last Place of Residence: Some little town in Tennessee
Jason grew up in rural New Jersey (yeah, there's "rural" in New Jersey... who knew?), but upon graduating from Asbury Seminary decided to be ordained in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is mainly in Eastern Tennessee (but also includes a little portion of Virginia and Georgia). Jason is married to Kari, and they have three children, Hannah (a second-grader), Meghan (4 and in pre-school with Xavie), and Jackson (age 2 - Jackson used to take great joy in biting our youngest, Eli, but with some solid parenting, is now E's best buddy and protector). Jason was appointed to a small church in the hills of Tennessee, which after six years of his leadership grew large enough, fast enough, to be willing to tear down their 100+ year-old building to build a new one. A heart for the lost, Jason's greatest strength is that he 100% loves Jesus and desires nothing greater than to lead others to him. That might seem pretty simple, but he possesses uncommon faith and compassion. He and Kari (who loves eighties music and spicy foods... gotta like that) are perfect compliments to one another and will do amazing things in ministry. His dissertation topic will focus on issues of power in mainline churches that have gone through a period of renewal and transformation.

Name: Travis Muse
Denomination: United Methodist
Last Location of Residence: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
The most accurate thing I could say about Travis is that he is a father. He and his wife Ginny's worlds revolve around three-year old John David, their sports-crazed son. John David is such an accomplished baseball player for his age, all of us Beeson Pastors are contemplating getting his autograph now so that when he makes the bigs we can sell them on E-bay, and make gajillions. Travis has been serving as an associate pastor of young adults at one of the 100 largest churches in the denomination. A consummate organizer, Travis can put together something before you even get the idea out of your head, and chances are it will run better than you ever imagined. He met his wife Ginny here at Asbury when they were both working on their Master of Divinity degrees. Travis' desire upon leaving this experience would be to be a Senior Pastor in a church of his own in his home state of Oklahoma. His dissertation will focus on Men's ministry in growing churches.

Name: Matt Scholl (the guy on the left)
Denomination: United Methodist
Last Place of Residence: Zionsville, Indiana
You know, I always kind of prided myself on being the I.T. guy at Shawnee. I fixed the computers, kept the network up, and stuff like that, but compared to Matt Scholl, I know, if not nothing, something close to it. Matt has an amazing brain. It processes things very quickly, and then begins to break them down analytically to come up with very logical, solid solutions. As a result, the brain that can fix just about any techinical problem you can think of, has an interest in trying to find ways to make churches work better. I've a sense he'll figure this out. A runner who enjoys running marathons, Matt likes to hustle money out of young college students a fraction of his age who think they can beat him in a 5k. Matt and his wife, Rebecca (a physical therapist) have a one-year old daughter, Alaina, and are expecting their second child later this month. A member of the South Indiana Annual Conference, Matt does have family in Dayton and did his undergrad at Ohio Northern University in Ada (which is close to Lima and is the location of the Wilson Football Plant, which makes all the footballs used in the NFL... that pretty much describes all of Ada in a nutshell). Matt's dissertation will focus on the characteristics of staff relationships in strong, growing churches.

Name: Jim Martin
Denomination: United Methodist
Last Place of Residence: Charlotte, North Carolina
There is a reason Jim has his finger up his nose. He's not trying to be funny, but rather, is a graduate of the University of Florida (the Gators), where nose-picking isn't just a required class but an art form. Jim just spent the last four years trying to change the culture of an established, old school, mainline denominational church in Charlotte, and got the crap kicked out of him in the process. Literally leading hundreds of people to Christ during the experience, only to face resistance from the "old guard" at every turn, Jim is using this season of learning as a time of reflection as he contemplates starting a new church in Charlotte for totally unchurched, non-believing people. An accomplished carpenter, Jim built a home for he and his wife, Terri, in the mountains of North Carolina, where, according to Terri, he continues to build more stuff when they go there on vacation cause he can't sit still. Quite a bit older than I, Jim is serious about physical fitness and could, if he wished, beat me into bloody pulp. You'd think that alone would keep me from talking trash at his expense, but I also knows he loves Jesus so he's not likely to physically retaliate, so I gleefully have a laugh or two at his expense. Jim has two lovely daughters who are both in college, Kendra and Cara. His dissertation will focus on the necessary elements that were incorporated into various new church starts around the country.

Name: Gordon Griffin
Denomination: Free Agent
Home: Any Place in South Georgia located near a God-forsaken swamp
In the time it took me to make this post, Gordon undoubtedly read a book and wrote a paper. I suspect that by December, he'll be totally done with all the work assigned this year, and will dilligently be working on his dissertation.... which largely makes me want to tie him up, leave in a bear cage at the Cincinnati Zoo, and cover his feet in honey. But the fact that he gets more accomplished by 9am than I will all week doesn't make me (very) bitter, just amazed at the mind that can approach what is before him with much discipline and focus. Gordon served six years in a UM-church in the South Georgia as a youth pastor after graduating from Asbury, but the complexity and length of the denomination's ordination process (which takes about six or seven years, beginning to end.... I'm not aloud to call that stupid, so I call it studip instead) convinced him that his future lay in a denomination more focused on making disciples than maintaining it's own stuff. Thus, now he's looking for a job in a church in South Georgia near his wife Clair's family, so that their kids, Haley (2) and Ansley (1) can grow up near their grandparents. Oh, and so Gordon can hunt deer in a swamp..... I can't even make up a joke about this. Gordon is passionate about the Bible, and in particular, the creation narrative (put it this way, he's no fan of Charles Darwain). Possessing no interest in preaching weekly or being a Senior Pastor, Gordon's desire is to be an Executive Pastor in charge of a church's discipleship program from birth to death. His dissertation will focus on leading from the "second chair".

Name: Scott Layer
Denomination: United Methodist
Last Place of Residence: A small town in Tennessee
Scott is a native of Philadelphia, but after a date with the lovely Kate spent sipping a slush at the Sonic and shopping at WalMart, got married and became a transplanted southerner. Another member of the Holston Annual Conference, Scott actually worked in banking before hearing his call. After a number of years as a youth pastor, Scott attended Asbury Seminary with the purpose of "moving up the ladder of pastoral leadership" (which, as a former youth pastor myself, I can safely say is something youth pastors sometimes do). Scott is the most prolific of all of us Beeson Pastors in the sense that he and Kate have five kids (our class record), Aiden (10), Max (yep, we've got two Max-es, and they are both 7 years old), Maggie (6), Anna (3), and Preston (who was born in Lexington in July). Scott plays guitar and roots for the Philadelphia Eagles. The guy is totally unflappable... as cool as the other side of the pillow. A man who has set firm boundaries between his work life and his time with this family, Scott paces himself well in all things. He will undoubtedly provide steady, strong leadership for a church that won't run before it can walk. The next church that gets him, will be greatly blessed as it enters into a season of balanced, nuanced, leadership. Scott's dissertation will focus on creating a solid discipleship ministry in a local church.

Name: Trav Wilson
Denomination: United Methodist! (he'd add an exclamation point... trust me)
Future Home: Huntsville, Alabama

Trav is one of two Auburn grads who were somewhat insufferable until Saturday where they got the pants beat off of them by a team from the football hotbed of Arkansas. Presumably both teams had to be convinced to wear shoes and ate a pre-game meal invovling grits and copious amounts of sweet tea. Anyhow, Trav, armed with a mechanical engineering degree, spent a couple of years in the field manufacturing stuff, only to be called by God to go into the ministry. So, Trav went to Chandler Theological School in Atlanta, returned to the North Alabama Annual Conference to be ordained as an Elder, and got to work as a UM-pastor. An associate pastor in his last appointment, Trav's desire is to, upon completion of this program, return to Huntsville to plant a new church. Married to the lovely Becca, Trav enjoyes building model rockets (four of which we shot off today... Travis and John David made a fifth) and (no joke - I mean how could I make this up?) surfing to Annual Conference web sites. Possessed by the belief that the UMC needs a "President" with significant powers to enforce the Book of Discipline (which is about as likely as me walking on the moon, but everyone needs to have a dream), Trav is deeply loyal to the UMC, warts and all. We firmly believe that someday he will be elected as a Bishop... and maybe "President" (you never know). Trav's dissertation will focus on the necessary elements that must be incorporated into a new church start.

Name: Nolan Donald (he's not the lovely one in the picture)
Denomination: United Methodist
Hometown: Auburn, Alabama

Nolan is our second Auburn grad, and was greatly humbled this weekend when his Tigers pootered all over themselves Saturday. The interesting thing about Nolan is that he is, in fact, the second-biggest Auburn fan in his house. Susanna, his bride of only three months, grew up confused and deceived by a father who convinced her that there was nothing better in the world than Auburn football. Since Susanna just earned a Masters Degree in English Lit from Wake Forest, I'll write a Haiku especially in her and Nolan's honor.

Home of Bo Jackson
Razorbacks whoop War Eagle
Bo waits til next year

Nolan was heavily involved in the Katrina relief work until coming here in June. His experience of working in New Orleans has only confirmed his commitment to the social justice ministry of Jesus Christ. At a relatively young age, he is already an exceptional preacher. Having served as an associate pastor, he would like his own church upon completion of this program. I'd like to tell you what his dissertation topic is because whenever I'm at his townhouse we're watching football. You see, I don't have cable, so if I want to watch college footbal, I have to go knocking on Nolan and Susanna's door... which, come to think of it, makes my making fun of Auburn football a pretty stupid thing to do.

War Eagle, kids! War Eagle!

(I'm such a sellout)

Name: Kent Reynolds (the guy on the right, next to Travis)
Denomination: United Methodist
Home: Athens, Georgia

Kent is our class sage. Filled with wisdom from having spent a good many years in the UMC as a pastor, Kent, who is in his fifties but still a babe magnet (sorry ladies, he's married to Sandra, a lady who really puts the "better" in "better half"), came to the Beeson Pastor to avoid "sliding into home". Not wanting to pastor just to draw a paycheck, Kent will be spending a great deal of his time doing pastoral training in Tanzania through the Assembly of God denomination. Kent left a fifteen-year long stint at St. James UMC (described by all those I've met from the North Georgia Annual Conference as one of the best, innovative churches they have) where he preached to a lot of University of Georgia students, traveled all over the world taking people on mission experiences, got heavily involved in prison ministry, and served for a good many years as the chaplain to the Georgia Bulldogs Soccer Team (since they don't play football at that school). He has three children, Chaz (30 - an organic farmer in Montana), Cassie (25), and Justan (18 - a freshman at UGa). Sandra, among other things, is heavily involved in Francis McNutt's prayer healing ministry and somehow tolerates being married to a man 6'10". In all seriousness, Kent, a deeply spiritual man, is basically mentoring a bunch of us down here, and I don't think we could do better. His dissertation will focus on establishing pastoral training for prospective Assembly of God pastors in Tanzania.

Name: Aaron Wymer
Denomination: Indepedent Christian
Home: Johnson City, Tennessee

Aaron and I have something in common: we are the only members of this class who will be returning to the same church we served before we became Beeson pastors. I mention this solely because some of you at Shawnee UMC will meet Aaron later this year when he comes to do an ethnography (and I, in return, will do the same on Grandview Christian Church, where Aaron has been Senior Pastor for seven years). Aaron is also a University of Florida of grad, and spend a great deal of his time practicing picking his nose with Jim while talking about the days of the "Fun and Gun" offense. Aaron has a great mind, but because of his family heritage, is rooted in such way that he can relate well to both the brainy prof and whatever stereotypcial harded doofus you want to employ as an example. He's a great storyteller, and is constantly making all of us laugh. Another runner, I think he's happiest listening to punk music as he pumps out mile after mile on the open road. He is married Cyndi, and they have three daughters, Meghan (14, and recently was escorted by a strapping young man to the Homecoming Dance, much to her father's dismay), Anna (10), and Cora (7). Once again, I can't remember what Aaron's dissertation topic is, but I gather it has something to do with him being Senior Pastor at Grandview Christian Church. Welcome him well Shawnee... he's a great guy!

So there you go, unbiased and somewhat inaccurate introductions to my fellow BP's. They're all great. I'm very, very lucky to be one of them.

And, before I go, here are a few more pics for you to enjoy before I take off. Enjoy!

John David Muse - Future Major League Baseball Star

Max and Max - The Bionacle Duo

Our Eli

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