Here's a cool thing. Check out this YouTube clip...
Pretty nice words in a pretty prestigious setting. Hard to believe eleven or twelve years ago, John and I were both guys playing solitaire on our laptops during some nameless seminary class.
Strange, but true.
While working as a youth pastor at the First Community Church of Columbus, John (JR) Ross attended the Methodist Theological School in Ohio, which is where he earned his MDiv. Back in those days, since JR was the only guy I knew pastoring a rather large youth ministry, I used to pepper him questions and soak up whatever I could learn. He was even gracious enough to invite me to his church to come see how things worked. Needless to say, I copied and stole with great abandon from him, and if you enjoyed youth group at Shawnee, Epworth, or Goshen First, you should thank him for helping me see some light.
SHORT NOTE TO MY MIAMI ALUM READERS: JR is actually a graduate of Miami, and I think graduated a couple of years before I did (which was in the glorious year of 1991). Let it be known that he and his wife are a "Miami Merger", and that she is a former "Chuck Chick". She was one of the angels who saved you from starvation after serving you up a Chuckburger and Chuckfry at 2:37am in the morning.
Of course, John went on to bigger and better things. Wayzata Community Church is a long-standing, well-respected congregation that among other things, brings in authors and thinkers like Deepak Chopra, Marcus Borg, and Jim Wallis to speak in the community. Proud of it's UCC affiliation, I think you could call it one of finest mainline congregations in the country.
Why bring all of this up, besides being a name dropper?
Well, remember that phrase about JR going to Mexico every year since 1996 to build houses for the poor? I remember a conversation way back in seminary where JR was really wrestling with the possibility of not doing a long-standing, annual ski trip to Colorado, and going to Mexico to build houses (I believe) through Agape Ministries (but don't quote me) instead. He couldn't just add a trip in the summer because FCC of Columbus owned a summer camp, which he administrated, so it was either Spring Break or bust for a missions experience. Long story short, he took the plunge, and within a couple of years he was taking hundreds to kids to Mexico, and I never heard about Colorado again.
Now, he's lauded for it on the floor of the House. Amazing!
Anyhow, he's doing good stuff in suburban Minneapolis/St. Paul. If you live in the area, know that he's the real deal (same guy now as he was in seminary, just older and wiser). You could do no better in the way of a pastor, than the Reverend Doctor John Ross.
Just call him JR.