I serve as pastor of CrossHope Chapel, a non-denominational Bible teaching church in west Mobile, Alabama and I enjoy officiating weddings for evangelical Christians who come to the upper Gulf Coast beaches to get married.
It was while working as a hospital chaplain in Mobile, Alabama that I became involved with officiating beach weddings. A patient had a family member that was a wedding planner and during my visit the patient she asked me about officiating for an upcoming wedding. A few months later she ended up on a Convention and Visitors Bureau committee that was creating a wedding destination website.
When the wedding destination committee completed their task of creating and posting the website, they realized they did not have any vocational clergyman listed (for brides who wished to steer away from online ordained ministers) so they contacted me about my willingness to be listed.
Of course, I said yes, they added my name to their website and that first day, while making rounds at the hospital, the vibration from my cell phone went crazy with bride’s inquiring about wedding officiating. That was the day that I started this website!
I am a big advocate of do-it-yourself simple weddings, especially the second or third time around. I believe in the value and importance of the wedding ceremony, and believe that it can be simple, yet dignified and meaningful, even with a dash of humor or a touch of personalized features.
A simple wedding is an ideal way to embrace a spiritual marriage – not necessarily religious, but living each day as soul-mates! I embrace the gift of marriage as given by our Creator for the spiritual, emotional, and eternal well-being between a man and women, and I want to help brides who want to put more into their marriage than into their wedding budget.
Marriage is not always easy, but neither is earning a pay check, choosing run a marathon, budgeting for a vacation, completing a degree, giving birth to a child, or any number of things that are worth the growth to gain the reward!
I was once in a conversation with a groom and one of his guest, when the guest shared some awesome wisdom with the groom. The guest described marriage as “3 steps forward 2 steps back and sometimes 3 steps back 2 steps forward.” He then looked toward the groom and added “The key is not to bailout when you’re 3 steps back because the longer you stay in it, the further forward you get.”
I am ordained evangelical Christian minister who grew-up Catholic, but has spent 30 years of my adult life in protestant church ministry, once affiliated with Adventist churches and most recently with Southern Baptist churches.
Today, I am honored to serve as pastor of CrossHope Chapel, in west Mobile, Alabama. CrossHope Chapel is a casual non-denominational evangelical church fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ who identify with a no frills, simple, informal approach to growing in grace.
In years past I have served as a church planter, a staff pastor, a senior pastor with churches and ministries in Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, and northeast Alabama, and as a denominational prayer ministries with the Conference. I have served as a hospital chaplain, with both independent, Baptist, and Catholic hospitals in Georgia, Florida, and here in Mobile, Alabama.
When asked what my denominational affiliation is, I typically answer Baptist, because I have been associated with Southern Baptist churches and ministries since 2000, although in recent years I have maintained a closer fellowship with the Calvary Chapel movement and their pastors.
I hold degrees in religion and pastoral ministry from Southern Adventist University and post-graduate Clinical Pastoral Education with University Hospital and Baptist Hospital in Pensacola, Florida.
You can read my personal conversion story of how I went from a Catholic to Protestant and met Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, bringing me a new purpose, identity, and a God-given plan for my life!
In years past I was active with a banquet comedy schedule, but recently my wedding and church ministry has dominating my calendar. I still accept a few stand-up comedy performances, as I can. I am passionate about encouraging others “not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10 ESV) and have shared much from my days in stand-up comedy in my book Merry Medicine for the Soul.
I have also written a few other books including Leader Lifts: 21 Motivational Lessons for Workplace Success, Prayer is the Answer, Five Steps to Writing Memorable Wedding Vows, and Simple Wedding Ceremony Planning Guide.
And a final toot on my own horn, I have acted in two funeral home TV commercials (playing the part of a minister!), once hosted a 4-year running syndicated radio show called “Ask the Bible,” and I have had the honor of being featured on national television, including ABC Good Morning America, Fox New’s Hannity’s America, and Christian Television Network.
I am North Dakota born, Ohio bred, but when I’m gone, I’ll be Alabama dead. (I know, that’s an Oklahoma thing to say, but it fits for me here.) I’ve been in this beautiful state since 1996 and now live in Mobile, Alabama with my beautiful bride, family, and a pet dachshund “Keef” and a German shepherd named “Jael.”
Over the years my four children have all been involved in helping with this wedding ministry service, through photography, coordinating assistance.
I have some favorite stories to tell, stories that shaped my life, and one of those is my story of adoption. I was adopted by my parents from Fargo, North Dakota in 1962 when I was only 3 months old and spent my growing-up years in a small burg outside of Toledo, called Rossford, Ohio.
I grew up with four other adopted siblings as a Durkac in a family of five kids, and have just recently learned the details and identities of my biological family back in North Dakota and Minnesota.
I am passionate about marriage, the family, and the God-designed power it communicates about the gospel. Marriage is not just about making us happy but making us holy because it transforms lives for eternity. You can read more about my family and mission for marriage through The Grandma Story and the principles of staying in love beyond the wedding.
As the pastor of CrossHope Chapel I am in willful agreement and bound by the church’s Statement of Beliefs, Statement on Marriage and Sexuality, and Wedding Officiating Policy, and therefore I do not officiate any type of same-sex ceremonies.
Marriage, as I believe, is given to humanity as the living representation of the image of our Creator, a model of the heavenly union between Christ and the Church, providing the character sanctifying relational dynamics of commitment with one different from the other, and the ideal of perpetuating the human family through the ability to procreate and parent through the context that mirrors the image of God through a mother and father, husband and wife, male and female.
Wedding Officiating Policy of CrossHope Chapel
“Because God has ordained marriage and defined it as the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and Himself, we believe that the marriage ceremony, officiated as a wedding or vow renewal ceremony, is an act of Christian worship, and as such, CrossHope Chapel’s pastors, ministers, and elders shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman, on church property or off church property, as an extension of church ministry and in accordance with the church mission, marriage policies, Statement of Beliefs, and Church Constitution and By-Laws of CrossHope Chapel.”
I am fine with agreeing to disagree and have without reason to regurgitate these differences with gay friends and family and have for years without any issues of contention. I hate to even have to reiterate this, but while society has changed its positions and norms in many other practices that I would also disagree with, this one is being forced to the forefront of national conversation by politicians, media, and activists, and because of that it is requiring of a response.
The issue of gay marriage, above other issues, requires a response simply because no one is parading the streets, passing laws, or campaigning for the promotion of divorce, adultery, or any number of once unacceptable societal behaviors.
I believe all people, regardless of sexual orientation, have civil rights, and are equally children of the human family. I do not condone prejudice, accusations, or abuse against homosexuals, and I advocate respect and non-discrimination on behalf of such, through relationship experiences of gay family and friends and in general. I also believe in equality of respect and non-discrimination of opposing advocacy and the religious liberty provided by First Amendment of the United States constitution, its civil rights, and constitutional protection of Evangelical Christian religious convictions and practices.
Gay or straight God loves you, God loves people who are dealing with all kinds of sins, and God wants you to know the gift of love. Love, after-all is God’s invention. The rainbow is a symbol of love, so whether you carry a rainbow flag or look upon it, know that it was first held high in the sky by the Creator Himself in Genesis 9:13 as a covenant of His love for humanity and desire to save us and escape the final judgement. In fact, the next time we read of a rainbow in Scripture is in Revelation 4:13 when it is above God’s throne of judgement.
Ultimately, gay or straight, we won’t be answering to each other. Hebrews 9:27-29 reminds us that “it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (ESV).
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