After ten very interesting and exciting years in the United States Air Force, I deeply sensed it was time to return to "civilian life" and to get some more education. I returned to Cleveland, TN to attend the Church of God School of Theology (which would become the Church of God Theological Seminary, and is now the Pentecostal Theological Seminary).
I returned to the "church of my heart"--the Peerless Road Church with Pastor Tim McCaleb and his wonderful family. Lots of things had changed in this congregation, and I'm not sure I was ready for all the "stuff" that had changed during my ten-year absence. I stayed in this congregation for one semester (from August 1996 until December 1996), and then felt that it would be best to find another 'church home.' I should have been upfront when I decided to 'change churches', but I wasn't...and to this day, I regret not doing so. Pastor Tim McCaleb and his wife, Sheena, are still very dear and precious to me. They treated me so wonderfully well and I owe them a debt I can never repay.
My new local church would be the North Cleveland Church of God, with Pastor Mitch Maloney. This historic congregation is possibly the oldest continuing Pentecostal congregation in North America, if not the world. Pastor Maloney and his wife, Sharon, were wonderfully kind and gracious to me. This good man prayed for me in some really tough and trying times during my 3.5 years as one of his members. He loved and cared for me in ways that I can't explain. I'm very, very grateful for his gentle, shepherding heart towards me.
August, 2000 would find me moving ONE MORE TIME--this time to the Windy City. Chicago, Illinois would be my home indefinitely. I wasn't sure of all that awaited me, but I knew that GOD was in the decision to relocate. After a few bumps and bruises (some of my own doing), I landed at the historic Moody Church, where Erwin W. Lutzer has been the pastor now for more than 30 years. I had listened to both "The Moody Church Hour" and "Songs in the Night" for many, many years before I ever dreamed that I would even visit Chicago--not to mention, live here. For two years, this would be my home, and my family.
In October 2002, I would visit the newly-established Chicago Tabernacle on Chicago's northwest side. Pastor Al Toledo and his wife Chrissy (eldest daughter of Jim and Carol Cymbala) had started this congregation a few months earlier, and I was in "on the ground level" watching the mighty hand of God as He performed what only He could do. The Toledos were kind people, and multi-gifted with more talent than should be permitted in a single family. For three years, this would be my "spiritual home" Pastor Toledo was (and is) one of the most inspiring preachers/speakers that I can ever remember hearing. He always brought something "fresh" from the Scriptures, and fed me the Word of God. However, my membership there would last only three years, and in November 2005, I would return
The Moody Church, Dr Erwin W Lutzer as my Senior Pastor. I'll always remember what this wonderful, wonderful man said the first Sunday that I was backing worshipping among the saints. He came up to me, and said, "It's about time you came back home." After the events surrounding my decision to leave Chicago Tabernacle, such a warm welcome brought tears to my eyes. I was glad to "be back home."