I was born in a village just outside of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Without a doubt, Fond du Lac is not just around the corner from Johnstown, Pennsylvania. For instance, I doubt there are many natives of Johnstown, or of Pennsylvania in general, who have attended an annual, bratwurst festival as I did every year when I was child. But despite the cultural and geographic distance between Johnstown and Fond du Lac, there are some similarities. Historically, Johnstown has been a hardworking, blue collar, salt of the earth kind of place. So has Fond du Lac, where most of my neighbors worked for various, large manufacturers or for one of the local railroads. Growing up in such an environment taught me the value of looking people squarely in the eye and of giving them a firm handshake. It also taught me you’re only as good as your word and that profound wisdom can be found in factories and work yards, as much as it can be found in universities and boardrooms.
After receiving my high school diploma from a Lutheran high school, I began a period of service in the United States Army. I was ultimately mobilized for Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Serving as a medical laboratory technician, I saw and experienced a number of things that very plainly published our need for God. Without God, I quickly concluded, life would be filled with many holes and voids that none of us could ever fill. It was one of the first times in my life when the value of my childhood faith became quite apparent
Shortly after serving our nation during Operation Desert Storm, I received my bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin system. I would spend the first leg of my professional journey in the world of marketing where I helped to raise needed funds for a variety of non-profit organizations. By the end of this phase of my career, I was the chief operating officer of a marketing and fundraising organization in Washington, DC. Earlier on, I had been the director of operations for another marketing and fundraising organization located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I picked up many leadership skills during this chapter in my life. To cite but one example, I came to know and believe that people follow a leader not because of the position he or she holds, but because of the person he or she is.
It was after leaving the marketing and fundraising industry that I decided to enroll in seminary. I eventually graduated from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg with honors in both testaments of the Bible and Christian theology. During my seminary years, I met the love of my life, the Reverend Julia Sprenkle, and we were married on June 8, 2002. Like more than a few married persons, I suspect, I have come to know that we human beings are meant for partnership; that we’re better together than we ever will be apart.
Prior to coming to Mt. Calvary, I served Faith Lutheran Church in New Florence, Pennsylvania for five years and St. Luke Lutheran Church in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania for seven years. I have definitely found my place in life. I am more fulfilled today than I ever have been in the past. As an evangelist at heart, it has been exhilarating and exceptionally gratifying to work with congregations who have experienced significant growth in worship attendance and other dimensions of Christian discipleship. Since Jesus has not returned to the grave and the Holy Spirit has not retired to heaven, I expect very similar things to happen at Mt. Calvary and look forward to discovering how each of us can be a part of that process.iv>