Hometown: Jonesboro, AR
Years in the River Valley: Three as of July 1, 2021
Occupation: United Methodist Pastor
Family: Tracy, my wife of 26 years; Addison, my 23-year-old daughter; Will, my 21-year-old son; and Lainey, my 14-year-old daughter.
1) What is your favorite book?
I love to read a variety of genres, but one of the most impactful books I have ever read is Thomas Merton’s “New Seeds of Contemplation.” Merton speaks with amazing depth and simplicity about the spiritual life. When I contrast this book with Merton’s journals and letters it reveals a man with an amazing gift for relating the spiritual with all its ups and downs and gifts and challenges. He invites the reader to look deep within one’s self and deep into the mystery of God’s all-encompassing love.
2) Dog or cat?
Ha! I love them both! Early in our marriage we had two cats, Bogie and Mattie. Bogie, like a typical cat, could “take you or leave you.” Mattie, on the other hand was a lover. We currently have two chihuahua’s, Ethyl and Olive, and one River Valley “mash-up” rescue dog (we’re thinking some lab, terrier, and maybe blue heeler) named John Wesley Griffin, in honor of the primary founder of Methodism. He goes by Wesley.
3) What do you think is the most positive aspect of living in the River Valley?
I love the natural beauty of the River Valley. You are near the mountains along with beautiful, lakes, streams, and rivers. What’s not to like?
4) What’s something that no one would ever guess about you?
I was a lawyer and CPA before becoming a pastor. I also drove a school bus for four years and joined the United States Marine Corps in 1991. I was unable to take my commission as an officer due to an injury during training.
5) What is your favorite genre of music, artist?
I love all kinds of music. But I have to say that I spend most of time listening to classic rock and roll and a little grunge, especially Pearl Jam.
6) What do you nerd out on?
Well, no surprise here. The twentieth century Trappist monk Thomas Merton was central to my doctoral thesis. I love all things Merton!
7) If you could change one thing about the River Valley, what would it be?
It would be wonderful to see a decline in the rate of persons living at or below the poverty line in the River Valley. While poverty concerns me in the River Valley, it is also one of the most inspiring ministries that I see the people of Russellville First United Methodist Church attacking through its Manna House Food Pantry. It is an amazing community ministry that provides food and hygiene items to approximately 24,000 persons per year. The passion and compassion demonstrated through Manna House volunteers and patrons inspires me!
8) Where is the one location in the River Valley you would tell a first-time visitor that they must go?
That’s a no-brainer! I would send first-time visitors to Mount Nebo for the incredible sunrises and sunsets.
9) Pizza, tacos, cheeseburger, or fried chicken?
Whoa, this is tough one. But I’m going to have to go with fried chicken. Why? That crispy, deep fried taste. What’s not to love?
10) What is your favorite quote? Could be from an inspirational person, could be an original.
Just one? I find these two inspiring and comforting. “The great use of life is to spend it for something that outlasts it.” ~ William James. “No one must despair of forgiveness from a God who is by nature most merciful.” ~ Desiderius Erasmus.