The truth is I squirm a little when people ask me what I do? When I say Pastor you probably already have some formed ideas about who I am:
did I mention judgmental?
I tend to surprise people though.
I relate to people who say they are 'spiritual but not religious.' I might be one of the least 'religious' Pastors you might ever meet. Awhile back I was having a drink (yes I drink and even consider myself a bit of a beer & wine aficionado) with a friend who looked at me and said 'You know Joel...I would go to your church!' That tends to be the response I get from people I know. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I ask just as many questions as I give answers and love to have meaningful conversations about life, spirituality, love, human nature, and faith with whomever I find across the table from me (hopefully enjoying something tasty)!
I love to go to Cleveland Indians or Cavs games, ignore the Browns, and/or cheer on the University of Akron Zips! I have been married to my wife Emily since 2005 and we welcomed our daughter Jubilee into the world in 2013. In 2016 we adopted 3 boys from foster care - so we are a big family! We have a dog (a golden doodle we adopted in 2009). My wife and I love to travel (in 2012 we made our first overseas trip to Europe).
Emily and I are also licensed foster parents. In 2011 we began by caring for a sibling group of 6 kids (yeah we like to dive into things)! In 2016 we adopted 3 siblings who had lived with us in foster-care for two years - making us a BIG family of six. Now I drive a 12 passenger van - yes like the Amish haulers but less Amishy and more 'my other car is a hybrid' kinda situation.
I started working with Harmony Springs in December of 2012. I was immediately impressed with Harmony Springs refusal to give up. The church tread through rough waters and came through stronger. I love serving a church that finds its mission in serving those around us, welcoming and appreciating all, and living out its mission creatively, nimbly and effectively. I like to say we are what people wish a church would be - we just decided to go ahead and do it.