What do you do?
I am currently a United States Navy Chaplain holding the rank of Lieutenant aboard the USS WASP (LHD-1) as its Ship’s Chaplain. I have ministered to the pastoral needs of Sailors, Marines, and civilian government employees aboard the USS WASP, all while the ship was first to respond to the hurricane disasters that struck the Virgin Islands, Dominica, and Puerto Rico in 2017, and its recent historic deployment with the Navy’s F-35 fighter jet. Previously, I served as a Senior Pastor in the Church of God in Christ, Inc. for 14 years, and a Senior Chaplain in the South Carolina Department of Corrections for 5 years. In addition to my duties as a chaplain in the Navy, I serve my denomination as a member of its Leadership Conference Committee, and one of its hand-selected theologians chosen take part in the theological revision of its current discipline; the first revision to be completed in 50 years. I am also completing a Doctor of Ministry degree, and plan to complete my dissertation May 2019.
How did Union Prepare you for this?
What attracted me to Union was its commitment to diversity and pursuit of full academic freedom. My time at Union prepared me for my future ministry as a military chaplain because it gave me the tools to successfully care for all who seek my pastoral care in the pluralistic, but sometimes occupationally stressful setting of the US Navy. Union through its gifted faculty introduced me to formal academic theology that gave me the tools to think critically about the Christian Faith and discover my unique theological voice. I was enabled by Union to take the richness of my faith tradition and articulated in a more broadened way as I engaged both the intellectual tradition of the Christian Faith and the existential concerns of my community, and others around the world.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing about my job is that I get to meet a diverse group of people in my Sailors and Marines, and travel all over the world. This is an education in itself. I also get to bring my theological training that began at Union as I give ethical and religious advisement to the Commanding Officers that I serve. Finally, getting opportunities to write theology for my Church when I can which gives me great fulfillment. Doing so is a means of “worshipping God with my mind” my late teacher, Dr. James Cone used to say.
How have you stayed connected to Union?
I have stayed connected to Union mostly through my former classmates. I hope to be more involved in the future.
What would you say to someone considering going to Union?
Union is a special place. There is no place like it. Union will challenge you, but the teaching of its faculty will also inspire you, and give you tools that will make your ministry fruitful in many ways to come. This is the case, because Union forces students in a positive way to theologically engage others as the world really is; diverse and changing. Many seminaries are dying because they are retreating from this engagement, and are seeking only to indoctrinate their students instead of equipping them to think critically about the faith for the present time in which we live.