For most of my adult life I have had the privilege of serving congregations as a Baptist pastor (the ecumenical progressive kind!), but my avocation as singer, guitarist and songwriter has brought a deeper joy to my life journey. Whether mounting the pulpit to preach a sermon or stepping onto a stage to sing one of my songs, I bring two instruments — guitar and voice — to offer my interpretation of life and faith. My creativity is most personally and passionately fed by my own experiences with love and loss, hope and despair, faith and doubt. In my songwriting I strive to give voice to the breadth of human experience as seen through the struggles of men and women of faith and my own struggles with yearning and resignation, desire and regret, longing and contentment–in short, the ambiguity out of which most of us live our lives.
An accident at age nine led to the almost-complete loss of use of my right arm. Only two months later, I began a lifelong love affair with music, learning to play guitar against all odds (thank God for thumb picks!). This defining chapter of my life story is the basis for much of the resilience, determination and tenacious hope I long to express through sermon and song.
For me the abiding metaphor for such resolve is found in the endurance of the Lone Cypress near Monterey, California. In 2003 my song “Lone Cypress” won 2nd place in the General Category of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the Merlefest Music Festival in Wilkesboro, NC.
One of my proudest moments came in January 2008 when I was invited to sing my original song Day of Jubilee at the inaugural gathering of the New Baptist Covenant in Atlanta, GA before the opening address by former President Jimmy Carter. An assembly of over 15,000 strong, this historic meeting was the very first national interracial gathering of Baptists to worship together and consider ways to promote Christian unity through mission and compassionate service.
The loves of my life are my precious Rebecca, Robert and Rachel, without whom no worthy endeavors I have ever done or ever hope to do would ever matter.