I was raised in a Christian home and had the benefit of growing up in the church, so becoming a Christian was a very natural decision for me. However, answering the call to ministry proved to be a bit more of a struggle. I first felt God calling me into ministry when I was sixteen years old. Our church had a revival and Rev. Sewell Woodward, who is a retired minister in our conference and still serving a church in retirement, gave a call to ministry at the end of one of his sermons and I responded. Over the next few years I went to college expecting to go to seminary but I was not sure what God was calling me to do.
I graduated from college in 1970 in the midst of the Vietnam War. Like so many young men of my age during that era I fully expected to be drafted into the Army upon graduation. The spring of my senior year I went for my induction physical and failed it. I was completely uncertain about what to do next. I applied to Duke Divinity School because I still was struggling with the notion of ministry. I attended Duke Divinity School for less that one semester and felt completely like a fish out of water. The experience had everything to do with me and my struggle with ministry and very little to do with Duke. I left there and went to the University of Kentucky where I completed a Master’s Degree in Higher Education Administration and went to work for the University of Kentucky, College of Medicine. Three years later, I took a job at the University of Alabama working as Director of Medical Education for the Health Sciences Program in Tuscaloosa.
By this time I was married to Jennifer and we had two children but the sense of God calling never completely left me. In fact, every Sunday when I went to church, there was still that small voice challenging me to think about doing something else with my life. Although we were very happy in Alabama and had been far more successful than I had a right to be, I still could not get away from God’s call upon my life. I shared with my wife what was going on within me and together we decided that I would give seminary one more chance. I went to Lexington Theological Seminary and the rest is history. It has been my privilege now to serve as a United Methodist minister for over 30 years, over 13 of them as a Bishop of the Church. I am one of the most unlikely persons to have been elected Bishop but it has given me a deep sense of joy to serve. I have been blessed beyond measure.