I live in Mussertown and I am Associate Pastor at Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster. I was born and raised in Goshen, Indiana. I also attended Goshen College, where I got an undergrad degree in Studio Art. As I think about what was formative then, especially regarding my sense of citizenship and neighborhood life, I grew up walking to school and to church. My dad rode his bike to work every day. So my sense of commitment to life in a neighborhood was fostered early on.
After graduating from college, I moved to Pittsburgh, PA, to participate in a one-year service-learning program called PULSE. I worked in the ceramics studio of Manchester Craftsman's Guild, and ended up teaching ceramics to high school students there for five years. In Pittsburgh I fell in love with Jessica King and we got married and bought our first urban row house in 2000. Our first daughter was born there, too. Jessica and I got to participate in all sorts of inspiring and visionary community projects there, most notably helping found the Union Project. I also attended seminary in Pittsburgh.
In 2007 we moved to Lancaster for me to begin working at Community Mennonite. We're now on our third city row house! And we now have two amazing daughters.
Three people now living I would like to have lunch with: Troy Polamalu, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Bruce Springsteen
The cause I most believe in is: Helping people make meaning in their lives through engagement with visual art.
Name three things on your bucket list.
Become a regular practitioner of yoga.
Take a summer-long road trip around the western United States.
Live in a household that produces more energy than it consumes.
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was young I wanted to be just like my dad. He's a carpenter; I wanted to build houses with him.
My greatest accomplishment is...What great accomplishments?! Still working on that...
My unfulfilled ambition is...I always dreamed of being a basketball player. Shooting guard for Pitt or Indiana would have been awesome. Too bad I'm slow, short and not very athletic.
Three words to describe me are...Loyal, Bookish, Potter
Tell us something about you that most people don't know. The first job I had where I was actually on payroll, had a timesheet and everything, was for a church. I was 14 or 15 and I got paid to rearrange the furniture every weekend. The church we attended shared literally every room with a daycare center. All the daycare stuff was on wheels and had to be moved into a corner and some closets to make room for the worship service (with kiddy art projects still dangling from the ceiling every Sunday). I was hired to shlep all the stuff back and forth every weekend, usually late at night after all the church activities were over. It only took a couple hours every week, but I was pretty unnerved by being in this big old building late at night all by myself. I staved that off by cranking top-40 radio through the church sound system and working as fast as I could.
I guess with that kind of start, I was either destined to become a clergy person or to leave the church altogether.
What is the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning? I hate to be too earnest, but I usually think of some work-related task that I forgot to do the day before. Terrible way to start. Then I go make the coffee, read the latest sports news and it gets better from there.
What's the farthest-away place you've been? Turkey. My wife tutored a young Turkish boy while his family was living in Pittsburgh. They made her promise, on camera, that she would come visit them some day. So we just had to. We spent an incredible two weeks there about ten years ago, being hosted by one of the most gracious families we've ever known. It was amazing.
What do you think Lancaster will be like in ten years? This is a great question, and hard. I hope Lancaster will be a shining example of how to manage storm-water in sustainable ways. I hope Lancaster will be less divided by race and class. I hope the cultural diversity of the southeast quadrant of the city will become a local destination point, with thriving local businesses. I hope the current arts-based development will continue to flourish. Some days I have my doubts about all of these. Some days I see really hopeful stuff on the horizon. I think Lancaster is an incredibly strong community with lots of potential. It's also a slow-to-change community, and might not be very different in ten more years.
One of my greatest hopes for Lancaster is that it will whole-heartedly celebrate the rich intersection between the burgeoning arts community and the cultural diversity of the city. It would be a dream come true if, in ten years, people of all racial, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds, from all neighborhoods, were fully engaged in an inspiring, innovative and risk-taking arts community. It would be the coolest small city ever. And all the pieces are right here.
What do you consider to be Lancaster City's greatest asset? In a similar vein, I think Lancaster City's greatest unrealized asset are the people and places of the southeast quadrant of the city. After three years here on South Shippen Street, I continue to be regularly dismayed and sometimes outright offended by people's assumptions about my neighborhood. Life south of King Street is safer, friendlier and more sustainable than many people assume. I have an architecturally unique house, beautiful outdoor spaces and trustworthy neighbors -- neighborhood attributes many people dream of.
Grabbing a bite in Lancaster with - $5, $10, $30 - Where (and what):
$5 -- Breakfast Burrito at Prince Street Cafe
$10 -- Lunch buffet at Himalayan Curry and Grill
$30 -- Dinner at Jethro's
What are the best aspects of your job? I get to be present with people during some of the biggest moments of their lives and at some of the hardest crises in their lives. That's sacred. I also get to spend a lot of my days thinking about and experimenting with what brings meaning to people's lives -- what rituals help make sense of the chaos, what environment draws their attention to the beauty of the world, what words inspire them to do better and be better people.
Would you describe yourself as introverted or extroverted? Extroverted. A little bit.
What is your coffee shop drink of choice? Coffee.
What music are you listening to now? Currently digging The Lumineers, and The Head and The Heart.
Best advice from your parents...I'm not sure I've been good at taking verbal advice from my parents. But they made me get a job at an early age and taught me to save money. It was a great lesson. Unfortunately I find ways to unlearn it over and over!
What should they have taught you in school but didn't? Pastors should be taught how to manage organizational finances and how to mediate conflict. My seminary didn't do much with either.
If there is one thing life has taught me it is...One never knows what all someone else is carrying around in his or her life that's invisible from the outside; every one of us carries a lifetime of challenges and hurts around with us every step of the journey. So err toward generosity and compassion with each other.
Lancaster City Living – Lancaster PA