I think my journey began at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, where my Aunt Jackie received Jesus as her savior at a Billy Graham Crusade. From there, she would frequently take her three nephews, myself included, to Glad Tidings Temple on Filmore Street, to hear the gospel of redemption, and evangelical Christianity, “on fire.”
My folks, not wanting to be called “holy rollers” started attending the Presbyterian church, in San Rafael, where I was baptized. My brothers and I, sang in the choir, went on work relief, and summer retreats, and my parents were in adult ministry groups. I had a stable, satisfying, and even reverent church upbringing until high school. Then 1970 happened. The Presbyterian church went “woke”, and our family left the church. At the same time, my Aunt Jackie sold everything she had, and moved to The Springs of Living Water, a Christian conference center at a spa resort outside of Chico. I spent many summers there, working with her, going to morning and evening devotions, and exploring the resort. I bought my first NT bible there and embraced the teachings of Jesus. After a few years my aunt became disenfranchised with their mission and left. At the same time, my folks were about done with institutional religion. I now know though, that God had lit something in me that would return later in my life.
I met my wife Gail in 1982. We were married in a civil ceremony in 1983, and again in 1984 in the Roman Catholic Church (out of respect to her parents).
Our first several years of marriage were spent mainly on work and starting a family. We didn’t know what the future would bring. It brought our sons, Robert and Tim. At the time, we lived affordably in a basement apartment my father and I built under their home. However personality tensions within our larger family got heated and we were asked to leave. My employer at the time had recently moved to Carlton, Oregon, and he wanted me to help him open a restaurant. That small open door led us to Oregon in 1990. The move triggered marital, familial, financial, and spiritual stresses that prompted me to ask God for help.
We started going to a Vineyard church in McMinnville, followed by a Presbyterian church in Salem, all the while attending Bible Study Fellowship. At the same time my oldest brother Scott became Orthodox, eventually becoming an Antiochian Orthodox priest. In our phone calls and visits, he would share what it meant to be Orthodox and what Church family was like for him, and I would share my Protestant frustrations with him.
In 2010 we left the Presbyterian church, and a little later went to the Orthodox mission church in Salem, where we met Father Timothy Pavlatos. While Gail and I wanted to become Orthodox, our sons were disconnected from the Faith. During that time my brother Scott died suddenly. My brother Steve and I attended his Orthodox funeral in Michigan, and I experienced how the Church loves and prepares its members for death. This drew me closer to the True Faith. This was also the time that God brought Amanda B., a former St. John parishioner, into our daughter-in-law’s life. Hannah and Tim eventually began attending St. John and were baptized. Then Gail and I start attending St. John. We asked Kent and Sylvia T. to be our godparents, and we were baptized in 2019. The following year we had the great blessing of being married in the Orthodox Church.
We thank God and the fullness of the faith to persevere to the end.