The journey of bi-vocational pastors, those persons who hold both a pastoral job and a secular job, is a surreal experience. The number of requirements and demands they face boggles the mind and so often aren’t recognized for the many sacrifices made.

I truly feel that these persons are disciples with a unique and very real call - as they wouldn’t have any reason to endure all they do in order to be ministers if they weren’t.

See, I was once a bi-vocational pastor. I spent five years as the pastor at Snowdoun UMC in Montgomery, Ala., while also serving as the sports editor at The Montgomery Advertiser newspaper. During this time I often found myself in unique, and sometimes unusual, circumstances as I sought to be faithful in both roles.

For instance, I frequently would go into the restroom at either Bryant-Denny or Jordan-Hare Stadium at halftime during the Iron Bowl to practice delivering my sermon for the next morning. When I was fi nished with this unusual rehearsal, I would return to the cheers of the fans, go back to work covering the game, and arrive back home past midnight.

Juggling these two jobs, while also volunteering to feed those persons experiencing homelessness and serving in prison ministry (both great passions of mine), was obviously plenty to handle. But, when you add to that the scheduling, paying for, and completing of Course of Study classes it can sometimes feel overwhelming.

During those times when I felt overwhelmed by work, study and ministry, I was encouraged by the donors of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation. I’m thankful for the financial support I received from the foundation and ask for your continued prayers and blessings for all local, licensed pastors. Your mission to support the education of these pastors is a gift to not only them, but to the churches they are called to serve.

I entered the full-time ministry two years ago and completed the Course of Study in June 2021. Even though I am no longer a bi-vocational pastor, I feel a burden for those now walking the same path as I did.

I began my full-time pastoral appointment at Gulfview UMC in Panama City Beach, Florida this July. As an older congregation, Gulfview suffered 10 deaths in the last year as well as the loss of other members who chose to move closer to family due to isolation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet, at Gulfview, we are blessed that our cutting-edge broadcast technology rivals that of larger churches. We’ve instituted a “Philippians 234” ministry – in humility looking not to our own interests but the interests of others – which includes providing backpacks for the needs of the area’s homeless population.

Christ’s love has been planted here at Gulfview for the past 65 years and we’re excited to see what’s in store for the next 65. Your gifts supporting my education have helped to equip me to lead this amazing congregation into the future.

If you are ever on vacation nearby – and want to experience the friendliest church on the beach – please come by and join us for worship...flip fl ops and shorts are always welcome!