This Fathers Day, I just want to take time to recognize some of the most influencial men in my life and say "Thank You!".
Father Terry Sweeny:
I met Father Terry last summer when I was investigating liturgical churches. I had just moved into a new community and knew of an old Episcopal Church walking distance from my house. I decided to visit one Wednesday for their noontime Eucharist. From the very first time I met Father Terry, I felt welcomed. Very quickly Father Terry began to speak into my life as a young student studying for the Ministry. I would meet with him in his office to chat about theology and life, and his care, love, and wisdom always have radiated through. Father Terry has continued to be an encouragement and support to me over the last year. Just this past Wednesday, I found myself once again sitting with Father Terry in his office catching up and just enjoying the wisdom and guidance of such a wise man of God. Father Terry is more of an encouragement and true “father” figure than he could possibly know. His leadership, his integrity, and his genuine shepherd’s heart show through to everyone who meets him and I could not be more grateful to have such an encouraging person in my life. Thank you Father Terry!
Dr. David Anderson:
I first met Dr. David Anderson one Sunday after he was done preaching at Bridgeway Community Church. I had been attending for a few months and after the service he approached me and asked my time. Nervously I told him and he followed up by saying: “I appreciate the Spirit of God in you…” What did that mean? I wasn’t sure. But it was the word of affirmation and support I needed most at that time. From that point on, Dr. Anderson served as an encourager and a brother figure to me. Always offering me wisdom and guidance, always giving me opportunities to learn and serve at levels I would never get the chance to otherwise. Trusting me and letting me glance into his life as a Pastor and ambassador for Christ. Being there for me during some of the darkest hours, just a call or text away. David Anderson has been one of the most influential models over the past 5 years of my life and has been a source of encouragement and affirmation. David Anderson always speaks words of life and vision into my life and even as God continues to opens doors for him and his ministry, he remains available and supportive for me whenever I need him. I am so thankful to have a man of God and a brother in Christ who is so affirming and encouraging as Dr. David Anderson. Thank You Dr. Anderson
Dr. Dave Michener
Right after I began attending Bridgeway, I made a number of phone calls to Pastor Dave due to some trying situations in my home life. From very early on, he has served as a beacon of light, a source of wisdom, and an example of a Pastor’s heart. Dr. Michener has always been one to lovingly offer encouragement and help whenever he has the chance to give it. He is a man of great humility and great compassion, not afraid to offer the hard truth but to do so in a genuinely loving and gentle way. Pastor Dave has shown me so much love and grace, trust and affirmation, and he too has always been accessible and ready to extend grace and wisdom whenever I may need it. Pastor Dave has done above and beyond for me when I have least expected it and has spoken light into my darkest hours. I am so incredibly thankful for Dave Michener’s love and support in my life. Thank You Dr. Michener.
Pastor Phil Zilinski
Pastor Phil was the most unlikely man for me ever to come in contact with. I had heard of him and seen him a couple times when he visited my old church in Baltimore that he used to be on staff at. But my relationship with him began my junior year in High School over Facebook. I was going through some hard trials in my life and Pastor Phil made himself available via Facebook to be a vent and a source of encouragement. Eventually, he invited me to come out to his house for a few weeks over summer. I know it sounds sketch, but it was totally God! I hopped on an airplane and was out in Chicago meeting a Pastor that I had first truly encountered via the internet. From that point on, Pastor Phil became a Father to me. He was always there to speak life and the hard truth into my circumstances. He was always available and became a safe haven for me for the last 2 years of high school and first 2 years of college. He opened his home, his church, and his family to me. He trusted me multiple times to lead groups in his church. He has taken me on ministry experiences that I would never have had otherwise. He has always been the first one there if something was going on in my life. He has continually shown me love and grace, even though rough periods in my life and our relationship. He continues today to be a source of unconditional love, grace, and safety for me. Though this past year we didn’t spend as much time as we usually had before, Pastor Phil is still one of my closest mentors, friends, and father figures. I don’t know what I would have done without Pastor Phil Zilinski in my life. Thank You Pastor Phil.
Pastor Aaron Finley
Pastor Finley was the first real male mentor I ever had in my life. He was my Youth Pastor from 7th Grade through 11th grade. Pastor Finley was the first person to affirm and encourage the calling to ministry I had at a young age. He poured into me his wisdom, teaching, and time whenever I needed it and provided me learning opportunities and leadership positions, showing a level of support and trust I had never seen before. Pastor Finley was also there for me when I was going through dark periods of life, always available to stop by my home, pick me up, or let me stay in his home if I ever needed. He was another man who spoke tough truth into my life but did it with true care and grace. His support and love was always clear to me and it is because of his nurturing that I am where I am today. I have continued a relationship with Pastor Finley and he continues to be an encouragement and source of wisdom for me as I journey on in life. I am so thankful for the love and support of Pastor Finley. Thank You Pastor Aaron Finley!
James Robertson is my biological dad. He has not always been there and we had a lot of rough periods growing up due to alcohol abuse on his part. He made a lot of mistakes that have affected me and my family deeply. However, I will say this. I have always known that despite the mistakes he made that he truly loved me. He made it abundantly clear. And today, I am grateful to say that he is a sober man who is making substantial changes in his life. He is becoming the father, husband, and man that God has called him to be. I am thankful for God’s work and provision in his life, and for giving me this chance to see my dad redeem the time and become a man of God. He is striving hard day by day and I am so thankful for his presence in my life and his commitment to change. I love him and could not be here without him. Thank you Dad.
There are dozens of other men and women in my life who deserve recognition. But for this Fathers day, I just wanted to honor the most influencial men in my life. Thank you all so much. One blog post could never express my love and gratitude for you all.
Happy Fathers Day!