St. Matthew’s, Westerville
Nominee for Lay Deputy to the 81st General Convention
Please describe your participation in the life of your congregation, the diocese, and the larger community
God has blessed me with a passion to serve others in ways that can fundamentally impact the way in which they can find and pursue their own relationship with God, and their own calling. Towards that end, I have been a ‘serial entrepreneur’ for most of my adult life. My focus has been on franchising, small business development, and real estate development. My journey has taken me through more than a dozen enterprises serving in nine states and eleven Dioceses. Since 2012 my wife, Cherie, and I have been members of St. Matthew’s Westerville. I have served on the Vestry, as a member of the Way Forward/Strategic Initiative Task Force, and as a lay reader and involved in our Episcopal House in Uptown Westerville. Known as the Pray Think Love House it is both portal and launching pad; a portal through which our community can access the love of God in ways meaningful to them and a launching pad into which we gather and from which we depart to deliver the love of God to our community right where they are. Along with Cherie and others, I have helped lead our outreach to refugees. In addition to sponsoring a high school student’s trip to Boston to compete in a national STEM Club competition we have also ‘adopted’ a Somali Muslim refugee family; a father with 2 daughters and 1 son. I am pleased to report this journey has truly been a mutual blessing; the oldest, Kifah, graduated this year with a nursing degree from Otterbein, Kunkaron is starting her second year there this year; and Abdikafi is nearing the end of high school and wants to be an engineer. I was blessed to serve as the Chairperson of Partners In Ministry In Liberia (PIMIL) for 10 years and then to Chair our successful Endowment Initiative. My completion of Formation for Common Ministry laid the foundation for me to become a more active part of the Diocese. I was honored to serve as a Delegate to Diocesan Convention for several years. I was humbled by the privilege to serve on Diocesan Council and ultimately Chaired the Budget Committee. Having gained a much better sense of how I can serve our Diocese and The Episcopal Church, I was elected an Alternate Deputy for the 79th General Convention and as a Deputy for the 80th General Convention where I was an active member of Legislative Committee 17 – Agencies and Boards. As an active member of the Bishop Herbert Thompson Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians, it was particularly rewarding to be a part of the Deputies of Color Caucus and to expand my reach well beyond my grasp. Last year, I was elected to serve as a Trustee of The Church Foundation, and was then appointed to serve as their Representative on the Board of The Procter Camp and Conference Center. I am now much more knowledgeable about how our polity works and would be honored to serve as a Deputy to the 81st General Convention.
I have been awarded Keys to The City by Mayors in both Birmingham, AL and Philadelphia, PA and previously honored as African American Business of the Year in Los Angeles, CA. I have served on the Boards of Directors of the Urban League and Boys and Girls Club in various cities as well as having served as a Board Member of both the National Black McDonald’s Operators Association and the Burger King National Minority Franchisee Association. Additionally, I was a Board Member of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated National Building Foundation and the Chairman of Alpha’s National Business and Economic Development Foundation. Finally, now as a real estate developer with a focus on church-based non-profit owners of affordable housing I am continually working with real estate professionals across the country as I seek to assist these owners in bringing their visions of benefiting their residents and their communities, and those of their church sponsors, to fruition.
Inspired by Matthew 5:16, I pray expectantly for your support of my nomination.
Thank you, and thanks be to God!
Why do you feel God is calling you to serve in this position?
Over 2000 years ago, all were told in Mathew 28:18:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
The next 2 words changed everything…”Therefore go…”. And go they did. The first century church had it right. 2000 years is a long time and, in truth, most, frankly all, of us have lost our way at some time in one way or another. And in what I believe to be a reaction to that more global ‘lostness’, more than 70 years ago Archbishop William Temple said:
“The Church is the only institution that exists primarily for the benefit of those who are not its members.”
That was a global call to return to what Jesus told us to do. That call was global, but life is lived ‘local’. And while I cannot say exactly how many years ago this was first said here (it was here when we got here) I can say that in our Diocese I believe the word ‘connection’ to be that same call to return to what Jesus said. We shout it at the top of our lungs on our web site and other communications and we strive to live it in all that we do. God has blessed me more than I could ever ‘ask for or imagine’ with a wife, a parish, a Diocese, and The Episcopal Church all of whom allow me the privilege to serve and thereby help me to grow nearer to God, and to that which God intends, as revealed through the Holy Spirit that dwells within. I believe that God now is calling me to serve as a Lay Deputy at the 81th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. The President of the House of Deputies writes that Deputies are charged to listen, share, attend, and vote informed by prayer, factual information, and the workings of the Holy Spirit. Ultimately, the goal is to seek not the mind of the majority but to reflect the mind of the Holy Spirit. Being transformed from nomad to pilgrim I have heard God’s call and humbly and prayerfully respond by offering myself in nomination to serve.
I close respectfully mindful of the closing of Isaiah 6:8…”Here am I. Send me!”