Pastor James Disney
Let me try to tell you my story and something of what I am about.
I was born in Baltimore and grew up in the suburbs of Washington D.C., enriched by its wonderful museums and culture. Playing with crayons led to more earnest attempts at making art which has always been a part of my spiritual life. Though I played soccer and baseball in high school, my sense of self was shaped by a growing interest in rock climbing. I was enthralled by the task of pushing myself to extreme limits while always being humbled by nature itself. Now I attempt this by riding a variety of bicycles.
At Johns Hopkins University a hunger began to grow in me. I was studying philosophy, looking for some greater truth. In taking a course on St. Augustine, one of the assigned readings was the New Testament. I pulled out the Good News for Modern Man that I had been given in 7th grade confirmation and read it with widening eyes. This seemed to possess a truth that no other book came close to.
At seminary I continued to have this sense that the universe was being unlocked by what I was learning. Perhaps even more important was that for the first time in my life I was experiencing the sustaining strength of Christian community. I was glad to discover that we really do not have to struggle alone. I had been praying that God would bless me with a woman to walk this path of faith with. God answered, when I met Jennifer. We have walked together in marriage for 32 years.
My first Call was to St. John’s Lutheran church in Buffalo, Minnesota. My first five years of ministry I directed the youth ministry along with basic pastoral duties. I enjoyed teaching Christian Discernment, developing classes such as “Taking Your Faith to the Movies.” My art continued to develop, and has been featured in over 40 exhibitions, as well in publications such as Christianity Today, and Books and Culture. As an athlete I participated in Mountain bike and cross country ski races.
In 2000 I was called as Senior Pastor at St. John’s. I created a mentoring approach to confirmation, centered around small groups. We began to think more deeply about the needs of the community and how they could be met through Family Ministry. I have found that learning together unites and strengthens the family. Being in the same church for so long showed me that God works in and through families as much as he works in the lives of individuals.
I have become increasingly more committed to equipping and caring for young couples in the early years of their relationship. In today’s world our relationships face many obstacles to growth. I want to help people through these essential chapters.
I am excited to have been called to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in September of 2013. The first time I walked into this church God gave me a sense that this is a place where He is alive and living among His people. Here each of us can celebrate the goodness of God in the friendships and fellowship we share. My vision is to celebrate God in Truth and Beauty. We have an art gallery, a concert series, and are always looking for creative ways to celebrate the goodness of God. There is something very special going on here. We have begun to use three words to describe it: NURTURED, AFFIRMED, CELEBRATED. It seems to me that our church is a place where each person can be nurtured, affirmed, and celebrated. This is our prayer, that it may be so for generations to come.
Our God is amazing. Risen from the dead, Jesus is Lord of all. He can recreate, reshape, and resurrect our lives.