Gregory Bruce (Greg)
It seems appropriate to share a bit about my life for anyone who may have a interest in knowing some of what may have influenced this blogger and his ideas.
From Teaching to Seminary
I started my career as an elementary school teacher in a public school in Baltimore County, MD. The next year I went to the Christian school which was sponsored by the church I attended, serving as an Assistant Administrator, then as Acting Administrator. I enjoyed education, both public and private, and both as teacher and administrator.
While working at the Christian school I came to believe that God was calling in a commitment I made as a 7 year old, viz. to be willing to serve in full time ministry. I matriculated into Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and crammed three years into five as I worked my way through school. I must admit I found the Boston area to be a great, yet sometimes distracting, place to spend my seminary years.
A Denominational Hodgepodge
I had grown up in a very evangelical Presbyterian church (PCUSA) in Towson Maryland until I was about 15 years old when my family made a move to a non-affiliated Baptist church. Both churches made indelible impressions on me and contributed immeasurably to my discipleship and growth as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I went to seminary as a Baptist, but did so knowing that I needed to find a different path concerning certain doctrines which I had begun to realize that I saw very differently from the Baptist church in which I grew up and which I loved; including and especially dispensationalism, in general, and eschatology, in particular, as well as the nature of God’s saving grace and providential involvement in the lives of believers and in the world. I had become a Calvinist.
I came to understand, that in the early days of our country’s founding, the Particular Baptist influence (Calvinistic) was far greater in America than the General Baptist influence (Arminian). As I read the Confession of 1689 (Particular Baptist) and The Westminster Confession (Church of England and later Presbyterian) I saw them to be very similar with a few exceptions. I’ve come to realize that most Baptists today aren’t aware of their “Reformed” roots.
For the five years that I was in seminary, I attended and served in a historic Baptist church in downtown Boston where my pastor from Baltimore had gone to pastor a year prior to my moving to Massachusetts for seminary. Here I was introduced to the denomination of the American Baptist Churches, USA. It was natural then, that I sought to minister in an ABC church after seminary.
My involvement in the ABC for the next twenty-some years was mostly blessing but was also an uneasy accommodation. While I found so very many faithful followers of Jesus in the denomination, there was also a wide range of theological expressions that included some members and leaders that were far out of my comfort zone theologically speaking.
Reformed thinking pastors were few and far between in the ABC, but as God would have it, my first stop after seminary was to a conservative ABC church outside of Philadelphia, where I found at least three young leaders who were Reformed. These three young men had either just finished or were attending seminary (Westminster, Eastern, and Reformed Episcopal). While serving as Associate Pastor here for five years, my Reformed convictions deepened and matured.
After 5 years as an associate pastor, I went to pastor an ABC church in a small town in southeast PA. I ministered there almost 21 years. I loved the church and the town, even though my tenure at the church had a very difficult ending, as is too often the case.
For over 10 years while pastoring at the Baptist Church, I also worked a few hours each week as a corporate chaplain at the local potato chip and snack factory and corporate headquarters. This was a great experience; one for which I am still grateful.
Since leaving the pastorate, our family has been worshipping at a local PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) church where we found preaching and theology which was nurturing and edifying. In the past few years we have found ourselves increasingly nurtured by the fellowship at the church.
For most of these 8 years since I left the pastorate, I’ve worked for Apple in its retail store in Newark, DE. This experience, I’m sure, will become fodder for some blogs articles I will write going forward, as I have worked with and met such a wonderful and wide range of people, learned so much about myself and the world I live in, and experienced life lessons which have the power to transform.
I grew up in Baltimore. My dad worked in a steel plant and my mom was a homemaker. I had an older brother and younger sister. We were raised to trust Jesus and to be faithful to Him. Our family was close, but, of course, not perfect. My dad passed some 20 years ago and my older brother last year. My mom is 92 and delightful, even if very forgetful.
I was prepared to be a “eunuch for the Kingdom’s sake” but not excited about the prospect. However, when I went to candidate at the church outside of Philadelphia just before graduating from seminary and at the age of 31, I was met at the airport by a member of the search committee and her father. Cyndi Faix stole my heart from the get-go, and has it still today.
This women of my dreams only had two problems that I could see at the time: 1) she didn’t want to marry an older man (I was older by 8 years) and 2) there was no way that she wanted to be a minister’s wife. I remember making a chart for her to see that if we started having children 2 years after we were married that I wouldn’t be too old to be an effective father and husband.
While she eventually overcame her two objectives, and even though over the years she has discovered many more reasons why she might not have wanted to marry me, we both learned how arrogant the little child chart I mentioned in the last paragraph actually was.
It would be 7 years, not two, and many arduous experiences with a wonderful fertility specialist before God would, in his wisdom and grace, see fit to give us the first of our four children. I would be 40 years old when the first was born and 47 when the last was born. Who was I to think that that I could schedule my family.
Our three girls and one boy are in various stages of finishing high school and college, and/or venturing out into the work world. They are an amazing source of blessing, encouragement, affirmation, and love.
Poster Boy for God’s Grace
I am so very blessed in so many ways. And I know that is altogether true even though there have been too many times over these many years when I’ve wanted and expected something more or something different from what God has seen fit to provide. This was especially true in this period after we left the pastorate. But this time of perceived wilderness has given me the lens with which to look back over my whole life and see that I have been a most blessed person, that those blessings were never earned, though I often thought they were at the time, and that I am, if nothing else, a poster boy for the amazing grace of God.
Soli Deo Gloria!