My name is Matt Black. I have been a part of the leadership of Smoky Row Brethren Church since 2008, but my involvement with the denomination goes much further back. In fact, I was born into it. My grandfather, Jim R Black was a pastor in the denomination for many years. And my dad, Jim F. Black is still currently preaching in the denomination at Milledgeville Brethren Church in the state of Illinois. So this denomination has been my life.
Being raised as a pastor’s kid sent me on a journey that may seem somewhat familiar to many of the same cloth. I was seen as the “perfect kid” by many adults. I had my rebellious moments and struggles, but for the most part I did the right thing. Then I went to college at Ashland University and had to find my own path. I loved sports and always have. In fact I have my own baseball blog here: http://giftofgod80.mlblogs.com I didn’t want to really be a pastor so I went into a communication and sports broadcasting degree.
Yet, God has some funny plans sometimes. Through a great friend and roommate in college, Jason Barnhart, I was drawn back into ministry. I went to Ashland Theological Seminary, got my M-Div degree, and thought this is what God wants me to do.
Over the years since coming here to Smoky Row I have learned that ministry is so much more than just being a pastor. It took me awhile to see that, but I am thrilled with where God has placed me. I am involved in so many different roles at Smoky Row and I love it.
I currently work at United Collection Bureau in Upper Arlington. I have met so many people in all walks of life and it has been such a blessing! I love people. That is it. That is the basics of who God has made me to be. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Outside of my love for being around people, I love coffee, a good book, and sports.
I came to Columbus 24 years ago as statewide director of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. Almost immediately, our family joined Smoky Row. Ben has shared that story so I won’t. Over the years, I’ve taught Adult Ed, served on the Board of Directors (now the Governance Team) and had a stint as moderator, as well as occasionally shared in our preaching.
My day job is serving as the Senior Area Director for InterVarsity’s Graduate and Faculty Ministry in the Ohio Valley. I lead a team of six staff covering an area stretching from Cincinnati to Pittsburgh and from Morgantown, WV to Cleveland. I also serve as the staff member for the graduate fellowship of InterVarsity at Ohio State, the Christian Graduate Student Alliance. I would describe my passion as helping bring the love of God and the love of learning together in the lives of graduate students and faculty. I love a line from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins that says, “For Christ plays in ten thousand places.” One of the things I love is to see all the different places Christ is at play across campus in different areas of research and the quiet faithfulness of so many of his people from janitorial staff to college presidents.
Through the influence of my blogging son and the encouragement of some colleagues, I launched a blog in this past year, “Bob on Books” that now has been viewed more than 5,000 times. I post on a nearly daily basis reviews of books, thoughts about reading, and wider reflections on life that come out of both what I read and observe. I’ve always thought I communicated better in writing and I think maybe I’ve discovered where my son got the writing bug from!
My artist wife Marilyn helps me slow down and see what is in front of me, whether it is a still life that I am helping her set up and photograph or a plein air outing with the Worthington Area Arts League. I take a sketch pad along and “doodle” while my wife creates real art. I also sing with Capriccio Columbus and Marilyn graciously endures listening to me practice music. We both enjoy gardening, indoors and out, and going for walks in local Metroparks as well as through used bookstores and art supply stores.
Ben Trube is a writer and blogger who blogs three times a week on [BTW] Ben Trube, Writer on writing, technology, or whatever strikes him at the moment. He’s been a member of Smoky Row Brethren Church on and off since he was five. His first memory of the church is a group of church people taking his parents and him bowling right after they moved to Columbus. He stepped over the line, did the splits which he was not designed for, and broke his thigh and was in a cast for 10 weeks during which he got to experience the warmth and generosity of the congregation first hand. He didn’t bowl for 11 years, but has since come to love the sport, and his company bowling tournament is a yearly treat.
Ben has been married for five years to his wife Hannah who he affectionately refers to as “The Little Red Haired Girl”. Ben and Hannah were the first couple Rich married, a wedding our pastor is unlikely to forget. They live in Columbus with their dog Simon and cat Dax.
Ben attended The Ohio State University, earning a degree in Computer Science and works as a programmer professionally. At OSU Ben sang in the Ohio State Men’s Glee club as a Baritone and has from time to time participated in the community choir led by his high-school director, Cappriccio.
Ben has self-published one book, with another due in summer 2014. The first is a book on fractal art and programming, Fractals: A Programmer’s Approach, and the second is a noir/technological mystery set in Columbus.
Ben is really excited about where this blog can go. We’ve got a lot of great writers here, and have already received some great feedback. Ben would like to thank everyone who’s signed up so far and encourages anyone to like, comment or share any of these posts!
Brenda Colijn is ordained in the Brethren Church. She serves on the pastoral staff at Smoky Row Brethren Church and teaches theology at Ashland Theological Seminary. Her spiritual journey took her through several different denominations and independent churches before she found her home in the Anabaptist/Brethren tradition. She has been involved in Smoky Row Brethren Church since 1983, when the congregation was just three years old.
Brenda is married to Henk Colijn, and they have two grown children. Although she grew up near Pittsburgh, PA, Brenda moved to Columbus, Ohio with Henk in the fall of 1982. So she’s now a Buckeye, having lived in Columbus longer than she’s lived anywhere else. This conversion was cemented through her husband’s employment at Ohio State University and her daughter’s graduation from OSU.
In her professional development, Brenda studied English at the undergraduate and graduate level, which left her with an abiding love of great literature, an appreciation for ambiguity, and a nagging perfectionism about writing. Her later graduate degree in theology taught her the importance of asking questions, thinking carefully, and coming to nuanced conclusions that are open to revision. She has been influenced by writers as diverse as C. S. Lewis, Jurgen Moltmann, N. T. Wright, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, C. J. Cherryh, and Terry Pratchett.
Brenda enjoys reading, writing, walking, riding her recumbent bike, talking about theology, engaging with science fiction in any format, and playing the occasional video game. She has published a book with InterVarsity Press called Images of Salvation in the New Testament. She is new to blogging.
Welcome to”Going Deeper”!
The purpose of this blog is to continue the conversation we start each Sunday morning, to take the word of God into the work week and our everyday lives. Scripture can sometimes seem very disconnected from life as we experience it today. This blog is one small effort to change that perception.
We’ll be posting three times a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays (or sometimes Wednesday) and Fridays. Our contributors are all part of the congregation at Smoky Row Brethren Church, some of whom you may also know from other blogs on WordPress. Ben Trube (pictured) writes about writing, technology and fractals over at [BTW] Ben Trube, Writer as well as working as the new administrator of this blog. Matthew Black writes about sports and the gifts of God over at The South Side story. Bob Trube blogs about books and whatever else is on his mind over at Bob on Books. Brenda Colijn is a professor at Ashland Theological Seminary and author of the book Images of Salvation in the New Testament. Jeff Whiteside is an associate pastor, worship leader and teacher in Olentangy Schools.
We’re looking forward to this opportunity to reflect on God throughout the week. We hope you’ll join the conversation by liking, commenting or following this blog.