Where were you born? Where did you grow up?

I was born in Winchester, Massachusettes just north of Boston as the first of three sons into an Irish Catholic family. We moved before I started kindergarten to Duxbury, MA just across the bay from Plymouth where the Pilgrims laid out their settlement. As kids, we always thought it was a privilege to live where the names of John and Priscilla Alden, Myles Standish and company lived. (Little did I know that someday down the road I would marry a descendant of Myles Standish.)

We lived on the marsh in Duxbury with the ocean’s tide coming up every day to our backyard on a little dirt lane. My brothers and I spent so much time exploring the woods and the marsh. Sadly, our parents divorced when I was about 8-9 years old and we moved up to Hollis, New Hampshire with my mom and stepfather. We lived across the way from some old quarries and plenty of exploring again. When I was in the tenth grade, we moved again to western New York to Portville, NY. I graduated from there and went to college at Robert Morris College in Coraopolis, PA and the State University College of Brockport near Lake Ontario. While in college, I heard the gospel of Christ and was cut to the heart of my sins and my need for Christ Jesus as my Lord and Savior.

What brought you to this area? Or kept you here?

After college, I worked in the Rochester, New York, area while attending the Baptist church in the college town of Brockport. Shortly afterwards, I met my wonderful wife Marie Rizzo (a special education teacher) and we were married in 1987. Later that year, I began seminary and upon graduation in 1990 began seeking the Lord’s leading as to where we would go.

We were called to the First Baptist Church of Herkimer, New York and we had our two sons, Joshua and Caleb. I pastored there 3 ½ years until it became obvious that leadership was more aligned with the Masonic Lodge than with the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A friend of mine, Daniel Meister, stuck his business card in the door of First Baptist Church of Ada upon hearing me ask “where in the world is Ada, Ohio…there is a church looking for a pastor?” Unbeknownst to me, he made the connection and the rest is history by the grace of the Lord. We came in March 1994 and are blessed to be in a small college town to bring up our sons and continue to be blessed by the fellowship and the community. After all my wandering around, it has been a wonderful surprise to be able to stay firmly rooted for the first time in my life.

Why do you love what you do?

For a man who never wanted to get up and speak in front of people, I never intended to be in this position but rather be up in the woods of Maine. The Lord had something more in store for me and I have a deep passion for people to know the salvation of Christ, the new life He brings and the amazing hope we have. It touches every facet of life and He desires for us to grow deep in our relationship with Him. Being a pastor allows me to enter into some of the joys of life as well as some of the great sorrows. I love what I do because of all that the Lord has done and continues to do for me and Marie. Our fellowship at First Baptist Church of Ada is a dear family to us in Christ and they are my brothers and sisters in the Lord.

What is your favorite thing about this community?

There are too many things to narrow down to one. A small town allows you to have closer connections, work together with others and with a university, it brings many people from all over into this little town. Going into places knowing people by name and being a regular is a joy. The constant influx of new students brings change and new possibilities. It’s a great town to bring up a family as well.

What are you involved in within the community?

Over the years, there have been a number of things I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of in our community. Currently, I serve on the board of the Ada Food Pantry and help out regularly during our church’s rotation in the pantry. Another joy is leading worship at VanCrest and the Mennonite Home in Bluffton. Most of my other activities are associated with First Baptist Church of Ada.

What are some of your hobbies?

Marie and I travel to see family when we have time off which means traveling to Maine, Cape Cod, Virginia, Indiana and Rochester, NY. I enjoy swimming in the cold waters of the ocean in Maine and Cape Cod, walking trails as well as taking in historical sites. Putting in and maintaining a garden is always interesting for me…my tomatoes take forever to come in! Having two sons, I enjoy playing backyard games of badminton, croquet and whiffle ball along with throwing snowballs at Tom Simmons.