The Decision to Go Back to WORK
I am an authorized United Church of Christ Pastor in the Central Atlantic Conference and I am looking for a group of folks (a church) with whom to journey. Concerning titles, I could write my name as The Reverend Dr. Matthew Owen Williams Retired Army Chaplain but I don't do that very often. Most of the time I sign my name as Matt.
My momma called me Matt and if that was good enough for her, I am of the conviction that it is good enough. In 2013 I left the Army as one of those folks who are medically retired. I moved back home to North West Florida to be near my mom who was struggling to make sense of end of life issues. Cancer was killing her. She fought back with all she could. It was a long battle spanning over four years. She died 8 Nov 2016. The grieving process was/ is the hardest thing that I have ever experienced.
I have been with many people who died. My best friend died four months before my mom. From hospitals to battle fields I have experience the affects of loss, yet strangely enough not once did I feel anguish like I felt losing my mom. I lost so much when she died. She prayed for me every day. She would argue with me and push me to inquire of God and not to worry about what people thought. She taught me to care for "the least of these."
She was a teacher of 45 years ( she taught reading for folks with disabilities -she was quick to point out that the word disabilities was simply a way of showing that we weren't focused on the ability). She used to tell her students, "I don't know how you learn so I will have to get to know you and then I will teach you in a way that you can learn." She cared.
After her death, for a time, all I cared about was making it through the next day. I spent a few days, prostrate upon the floor, cheeks covered in dried out tears and my soul so torn that I couldn't move. Then, as days wore on, I started living again. I picked up the guitar and played. I played and sang and wrote songs. I started playing shows. I traveled and it helped. In May 2017 I went on the road by myself.
Slowly, I went to begin to live again. I decided that the best thing for me to do that was to reconnect to the people who cared about me. I knew that dozens and dozens of folks I had served with in the military cared about me. The journey was wild. It has spanned over 15000 miles. I spent all the money I made, was given, and this morning we payed off the credit card I used to fix the truck. Since May we have had over 48000 views on the Face Book page. This number includes the Face Book Live Shows and the Videos I made.
Last week I played in Austin Texas. At the Seminary of the South West, David Peters an Episcopal Priest and fellow Retired Army Chaplain (we worked together at Walter Reed Army Hospital) hosted a conference focusing on healing from Moral Injury. It was awesome. I looked at how David Peters started the Episcopal Veterans Fellowship and what he is doing as a local Pastor with a National Outreach and I realized that I too am being drawn back to work in the local church.
So, I am looking for a Church to journey with and to serve. I do have some boundaries, some expectations, some desires. I love those Colorado Mountains. I am a UCC Pastor and unless God drops a postcard telling me not to be otherwise - well, I am not changing denominations (that doesn't mean I won't work with another but I have no disillusion about any one denomination being more right than the other, sure some work better for some). The UCC works for me.
I fit in the UCC and honestly I am not looking to be the grand good looking, squeaky clean, sinless example of the guy up front. I am Matt a sinner, whose only redeeming value is rooted in the hope that Christ steps up and says, "Hey, I know him. He is one of mine." I worked hard (formal education and hard knocks) to be in a place where I can Journey with a congregation. Maybe the congregations that reaches out to me will journey with me all the way to the end -That is the kind of relationship I desire to experience as a Pastor.
I also want to continue helping Veterans out. I think the evil of war stains all who partake and I believe that only grace and mercy can help that stain. I will not stop playing music and caring for Veterans.
So, in closing I am looking for a place to go. I like the idea of mountains. I like the sea. I believe in tradition and heritage and love and compassion and creativity. I am not interested in being a yes man. I am going to post my Resume and Curriculum Vitae online. I hope y'all share the blog as I share my journey and start this process.
Thanks for caring for me,