Greetings! It is a pleasure to meet you! I hope get to know many of you in person as I become more involved with the family of St. Peter’s. This community is so dear to my heart and I can remember wanting to be a part of it when it didn’t even have a name yet!
I figured I’d start out with a bit about my story. I grew up outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Some of my favorite things are southern cooking, Marvel Comic movies, John Green novels, and rock and roll. I was raised by a couple of musicians as parents. Music is in my bones. My dad taught me who the guitar legends of the world are i.e. Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and the list goes on.
Music very quickly became my life blood. In high school and college I pursued it and started honing my craft. During those years I also fell in love with the process of writing songs. I found that through songwriting I could process what I was feeling. I could say things in ways that I couldn’t in normal communication, and it was cathartic for me. I finished college with a bachelor’s in English Education at Kennesaw State University outside of Atlanta, and shortly after graduation made the decision to pursue further education.
In July of 2010, I moved to Orlando, Florida. This is a very cool, much longer story, but I’ll let you ask me about it in person. In Orlando, I began seminary and got involved at a church called Summit Church. It was in these two places that I met this guy named Alastair who has a strange love for sour keys. I remember sitting down to breakfast with Alastair for the first time and talking for hours about life, Jesus, and what we both had encountered in the church. He mentioned he wanted to start a church in Vancouver, and I was essentially like, “Oh wow. That’s awesome. I’ll pray for you.” After that breakfast Alastair and I, as well as another friend, spent the next three hours praying for each other. It was so strange. I was pouring my heart out to two virtual strangers, and from that day forward things started down a road I never would have dreamed up in a million years.
I finished a year of coursework at Asbury Seminary, and then got a call from a local high school about an English teaching position. It was pretty much laid in my lap. At this point, I was about 85% sure I was going to be moving to Vancouver, but I really needed the paycheque. I took the job, and about halfway through the year realized I wasn’t cut out to be a public school teacher. It helped me confirm where I needed to be, what I needed to be after, and it provided me with funds to take my first trip to Vancouver. When I got to Vancouver over my break in the Spring of 2012 I fell in love with the city immediately. What an incredible place! I kept freaking out about how huge the trees were. I’d never seen evergreens that majestic in my life! I told Alastair that I was in, and that I would do whatever it would take to get back to Vancouver. We both agreed that I would need to raise my own support, so when I got back to Orlando I went on staff with a missionary organization. I started to fundraise in order to come to Vancouver to help reach creatives — in any expression be it art or poetry or writing or music or you name it — with the hope and peace of the Gospel.
A huge part of my story is how long this has taken to accomplish. I started raising support in September of 2012. If I do the math, which is pretty much at the limit of my mathematical abilities, it has taken almost three years to finish this process. Tack on another year and a half before that and I’ve been working at this for almost four and a half years. I never assumed it would take this long, but God’s timing is perfect, and there was a lot that I need to go through before I was ready to head out. I have cried very real tears, and I have laughed until I couldn’t breathe, and I have experienced miracles in the process of getting to all of you in Vancouver.
I’m reading a book by Donald Miller called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and Miller describes the story of how he hiked the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu in Peru. Carlos, their guide, shared how one could take a bus into Machu Picchu, but those people never experienced the city the way that people who hiked the entire trail did. Miller writes, “The pain made the city more beautiful. The story made us different characters than we would have been if we had skipped the story and showed up at the ending an easier way.”
The struggle of getting to Vancouver over the past four years has made me appreciate this moment even more. The city of Vancouver means so much more to me now than when I started and I cannot wait to be amongst you. I believe whole-heartedly in cultural renewal.
There are so many different ways to be a part of the cultural renewal of a city, and this idea is the tractor beam that drew me to St. Peter’s Fireside. I want to be a part of the pursuit of cultural renewal within the realm of the Arts. I desire to see creatives in Vancouver come together in community, find long-lasting, deep relationships, find a solution to the rampant loneliness in the city, and ultimately come to know the hope and peace that the Gospel has to offer. This is how I wish to join God in the renewal of Vancouver. It will take some time for me to truly figure out what this looks like, but I’m in this for the long haul, and I look forward to creating many memories within the community of St. Peter’s Fireside!