I was born in Washington, DC, in 1956. My parents were financially very comfortable, my mother was a writer who was one of the founders of Meet the Press. Later on she served as a speechwriter for President Ford. My father was a lawyer for the Defense Department and later with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration; in his job he bought things he could never tell us about.
My earliest memory was that I belonged to Christ, I just always knew this. I loved reading the Bible, even though I did not understand all of it, I just knew it was true. My father had a terrible temper and my mother, being an only child, did very little to restrain him. I was the oldest of three children; my sister was next and then my brother. As the oldest, I bore the brunt of my father's temper, and became very rebellious.
Jesus loved me and when I was five, He sent me Bonnie, a wonderful collie puppy. Bonnie and I went everywhere together and I cannot count the number of times I soaked her fur with my tears. Bonnie taught me what love was supposed to look like. She loved me, no matter what I did she was always there. Looking back I realized that Jesus used Bonnie to teach a child what unconditional love, Jesus' love, looked like.
My parents were Episcopal and we faithfully went to church on Christmas, Easter and whenever my mother could drag us there. I hated church, especially the sermons. Living just outside of Washington, DC in the suburbs of Maryland the message always seemed to be either about some obscure theological point that seemed to have absolutely no bearing on daily life or about some political issue. I was allowed to miss this until I was 13 being sent to Sunday school instead. There I loved the stories from the Bible, but I already knew these very, very well and was bored.
As an adolescent, I had many girl friends and found public school to be very easy. I was a solid C student, but I never had to study. Instead I played with my girlfriends and not always in an appropriate way! I started speaking at 8 months and was walking at 9 months, which got me tested a bunch. My IQ numbers were ridiculously high and my parents sent me to a private nursery school in Georgetown. I had the honor of being the only student that they ever expelled...I didn't do nap time, I would pretend to sleep until the teacher became distracted or left the room and then get up and wake my classmates and play with them. This just could not be allowed!
My parents could not have a C student, nor could they allow my potential to be wasted so they found an incredibly rigorous Jesuit High School that they wanted me to attend. Two problems -- it was all boys and you needed to take the Secondary School Admissions Test, basically the SAT for High School kids to get in. I did not want to go, I wanted to goof off with my girlfriends, so I found ways to miss the test and with my C average had no prayer of being admitted. Only 80 students were selected to the 9th grade every year and the year that I was to enter 9th grade they had several thousand applicants. My parents registered for the last test of the year, which was past the school's application deadline. The day of the test, I awoke with a fever of 102 and later found out that I had strep throat, so no test for me! My mother told me the deadline had passed, but they wanted to see if I was stupid, so they wanted me to take the test anyway. An appeal to my pride and stupid me it worked. I had a perfect score on the test, one of only 5 that year. In 1970 Georgetown Prep, admitted 82 students for 80 slots, a diplomat's son and me. Prep divided its freshman class into four groups, form 1 was the most rigorous academically and form 4 the least. I was stuck in form 1 all four years and did everything I could to flunk out the first two years, no homework, leaving campus...but at test time, my fear of failing kicked in and I managed to excel at the tests and stayed in.
During my Jesuit education, I completely fell away from the church, the high point being my junior year's religion class. The teacher was 84-year-old Father Bryne, who had been a Roman Catholic priest since his early 20's. One morning he said: "Boys today we are going to have a debate, half of you will argue one way the other half the other way, count off by twos...all right the topic is; Is French kissing a mortal sin?" Mortal sin, of course, is an unforgivable sin that would send one straight to hell, as opposed to a venial sin that could be atoned for through penance. Imagine an 80 year old man, never married, asking a bunch of incredibly hormonal teenage boys to debate French kissing! The debate was probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen. At the end Father Byrne gave us the correct answer to the question, French kissing, if nothing else occurred could be forgiven. However, it usually did lead to more and, if so, our souls were lost for eternity. Despite the fact that Jesus died for all of our sins--including inappropriate kissing!
We studied the Bible as a textbook and I, (and for this I am truly sorry), used it as a weapon to get what I wanted. My teachers had taught me well and I could take passages, out of context, and justify just about anything. I would like to tell you that I did not know this was wrong, but that would be a lie. I knew it was wrong, but did it anyway...throughout this falling away I still knew I belonged to Jesus and that I was making Him very sad. My teachers, with the concept of mortal and venial sin had taught me very well.
In my junior year I settled down and made the honor roll, I wanted to be able to choose which college I went to; I had learned what to say to the priests to get what I wanted, including good grades. In my senior year, I turned 18 and the draft was a very real thing. You would receive a lottery number based on the day you were born, of the 365 numbers the first 90 were always drafted and without some sort of political pull were sent off to Viet Nam. I did not want to go to Viet Nam, I not want to run away to Canada and I absolutely would not accept any unfair political maneuvering to avoid the War. The thought of someone dying in my place because my parents had pulled strings was unbearable. I got my lottery number a few months after my 17th birthday...it was lucky number 8. Fortunately, the draft ended shortly before my 18th birthday.
I was accepted to George Washington University and was a pre med student. In my junior year of college, my father had a heart attack that nearly killed him. We were moving and he all of a sudden felt very weak. Something inside me told me he was having a heart attack. He thought he had heartburn and my mother thought it was his hernia acting up, I knew he was dying. My parents fiddled around for an hour or so, and finally I told them they had a choice, I would drive him to the hospital or I would call an ambulance. My mother was furious because I was upsetting my father and I needed to be quiet. I told her I would wait five more minutes and then she had a choice to make. She finally agreed to let me take them to the ER, to this day I have no idea how I was able to drive so fast without getting pulled over by the police...as we were turning into the hospital parking lot he lost consciousness. Literally, two minutes after the ER staff had gotten him out of the car and into a treatment room, he went into full arrest.
The doctor told us that he had had a severe heart attack and had we waited five more minutes would have died, furthermore there was only a 5% chance that he would survive. The first words my mother said to me after this news was that I was not to tell my sister or brother anything except that he had some sort of kidney problem and that everything would be ok. For the next several months I became the man of the house while she stayed with my father and yes I did lie to my sister and brother.
Given my new responsibilities, my grades suffered, I rarely attended classes and realized that another 4-8 years of medical schooling and internship would just not do. I was working in a lab at the National Institutes of Health, in order to pay for college, but in my senior year, I took a job as an evening drive up teller with a local Maryland Bank. I realized that I needed a break from school either in order to begin a career or to save for medical school. When I told the bank this they placed me in their management training program, to make a long story short, I excelled at this and within 5 years was the youngest Vice President this Bank had ever had.
Life was good, the money was great, I had real power, but something was missing...My boss and I over way too many drinks talked about this and he told me that this bank liked its executives to be married, that it demonstrated stability and that I should seriously consider finding a wife. Shortly afterwards, at Friday happy hour I met Anne, an attractive branch executive who worked for the same bank, what luck! She was Catholic and her father, in order to do penance for his divorce from her mother, had served as a cloistered monk for two years. Even though he had left the monastery, he still attended Mass three times a week. A year after we met we were married, the bank was thrilled!
I was working very long hours and my wife wanted more attention, this caused a lot of friction. I wanted to further my career, she wanted more time but loved the financial rewards. We decided that having a baby would help things a lot, she would be able to give up her job, or at least go part time and I would be free to pursue my career, brilliant right? We quickly got pregnant, which she believed was affirmation from God that we were on the right track. After the first trimester, we told everyone we were expecting, what a wonderful joyous time! Early in the fourth month, she miscarried and everything fell apart. She believed that God was punishing us for the sins of her father; we had several very dark years. Instead of time healing all wounds, her hurts festered and grew and we argued more and more. We separated one evening when I found myself looking down the barrel of a loaded shotgun and heard the click of my wife releasing its safety. We divorced and several years later, she received an annulment from the Vatican, I heard that it cost her $5,000.
On the surface my life was perfect, I rose to the second in charge at several banks, had bank paid cars, country clubs, insurance, hundreds of thousands of dollars in retirement accounts, large luxury houses, regular sailing trips to the Caribbean, flying lessons, polo matches. I even raced Porsches and was the Republican nominee for Comptroller of the State of Maryland. From a material aspect, things could not have been better - I was miserable. I remember praying to God about how wonderful it was that he let me do all of this, because this success was all my doing.
God started putting some bumps in the road; I had a terrible accident in the Porsche, totaling it and suffering a major head injury that required two years to completely heal. My career started suffering some setbacks, I was no longer the golden boy, I realized that my friends liked me for my checkbook and ability to do favors. All the time there was this little voice whispering in my head that I needed to turn to Him, let Him run my life. I did not listen.
I lost my job, which at Senior banking levels happens all the time. But in the past, whenever this happened, I found a new one within a week or two at a significant pay increase over the old one. No one wanted to hire me this time, so I played in politics and really did not worry very much, I would get myself out of this somehow. Several years later, the money was gone, the career was gone and I found myself driving across the Peace River Bridge near Fort Myers, FL. It was a beautiful day out, a friend had given me $20, which now was a lot of money for me and I felt something crumble inside of me. In my earlier life, I was rich and miserable and now I was poor and miserable, it struck me that my way, rich or poor, led to misery. I crumpled and heard a little voice, inside my head, say; "Come to me, please just surrender to me." Sobbing I surrendered and my life changed. Almost immediately this wave of relief and love washed over me, for the first time in my life, except for maybe when I got Bonnie, my pain was gone!
Three weeks later, out of the blue, a local bank called me and offered me a job. My career returned and the money was even better the second time around.
I wanted to go back to church and work had moved me to a bank just outside of Atlanta, GA. I joined a local Baptist Church and was placed on their finance committee. The Church was in big trouble, they had started meeting a few years ago in a local School, when their attendance grew to 400 they had obtained a $1,000,000 mortgage to build a Church building. Since it had opened, membership had fallen off tremendously. When I joined them there were only 10 families (of very modest means) supporting the church. The church could not pay its mortgage, its Pastor or really anything else, besides its utilities. The founding Pastor left and took a secular job and the Youth Pastor from Flamingo Road Baptist--now the Potential Church right up the street, moved to Georgia and became their Pastor, the Southern Baptists paid his first year salary.
I was asked to help fix the problem...in meeting with the Church's leaders I learned that they were refused a building permit, because they wanted to have a school as part of the new Church Building and this required a zoning variance. The church had decided to build office space, instead of schoolrooms and the permit was granted. Almost immediately, after the building was opened the 'offices' reverted to schoolrooms and a new school was established. I was assured that this was ok, because no one would ever check and many churches in the area had schools. No one seemed to see that this deception occurred at the exact same time that membership began to fall. Again that little voice in my head said; "The building is tainted by deception, burn it down!" I told them we needed to sell the building and take whatever loss that came with that. Reluctantly they agreed, almost immediately another church made an offer that would pay off the debt. The buyer wanted 90 days to arrange their financing and to make sure our building would meet their needs. The contract was absolutely binding on us, if the buyer paid the money the building was theirs, period. The buyer, however, could change their mind at any time and for any reason over the next 90 days and would only forfeit their $10,000 deposit. The Sunday after the contract was signed two new families came to church, within 30 days we had a new member's class for 50 some new attendees, 60 days later the sanctuary was getting crowded. We could now afford to pay the mortgage, if we could get the bank to reduce its interest rate and to forgive several past due payments. Incredibly, the bank agreed to do this as soon as they were asked. The Church closed its school until it got the variance they needed and today is a growing, vibrant church that spends thousands doing outreach and has 300-400 average attendance on Sundays.
The Pastor asked me to consider going into ministry, I was too smart for that, I could do ministry at work and banking paid so much better. Stupid me, I had failed to learn the lessons of the past. Doing ministry in the workplace did nothing more than get me enrolled in many sensitivity classes and reprimands for creating a work environment that was not welcoming to non-Christians. Clearly, this is not what God wanted for me.
He began to take things away again and something happened that I have never seen before. The President of the Bank, who was elderly, in poor health and had been openly talking about how I would soon take his place, when he retired, called me into his office. I thought, this is the day, he is retiring...I hope I am ready. He began by saying that he thought I was doing a wonderful job, that he had never encountered anyone who knew as much about banking as I did and that my efforts had probably saved the bank from failing. In my head I was making plans for the changes, I would make as President and at first missed the next part..."So Tim this is where we say good bye, your time here has come to an end." He went on to explain that he wanted to bring in a friend of his to take my job and could not keep me because I knew far more about the job than his friend and that would be too uncomfortable for everyone.
This happened in mid April 2011 in Northern Florida. My wife and I had been talking about the call to ministry that I had been feeling for the past 20 years or so. She had a house in Pembroke Pines that we had been renting out, Knox Seminary was close to the house and this might work. However, she would need to get her old job back, our tenant would need to agree to leave early and I would have to be admitted to Knox which had a June 30 deadline.
The tenant told us that she needed to leave early and had not said anything because she was afraid we would keep her security deposit for her breaking the lease. We allowed her to break it and gave her the deposit back! My wife was a manager at Memorial Regional Hospital, their website said that they had a hiring freeze, but she called them anyway. Her old boss only asked her one question, which was when could she start. Knox needed a completed application, transcripts from my college, a statement of faith and they needed recommendations from a Clergy member, a business associate and a friend and they needed all of this by June 30. They received the final piece, the Clergy recommendation on June 30 and I was accepted.
One of the Deans at Knox was Fr. Jonathan Smith who told me, at our first meeting, that he thought I was an Anglican, even if I did not know it. We talked and I realized he was right, he suggested that I try the Anglican Church of the Word (ACOW) as my first venture into Anglicanism. My wife and I did and fell in love with ACOW at first sight.
I realized that every step I have ever taken was a part of God's plan. It was all designed to lead me to ACOW and to Fr. Cass and Bishop David. I am eagerly looking forward to being ordained to the Deaconate in June 2015.
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