Although Joe is not a clinical or licensed counselor, his interests and life experiences have inspired him to venture into the study of trauma-sensitive theology. Trauma-sensitive theology looks at how trauma and PTSD have shaped the biblical narrative and continues to shape how people read and engage the Bible.
For example, how did Jesus’ crucifixion, resurrection, and the ongoing persecution of the church (as both victim and perpetrator of abuse) shape trauma within Christian community? How has trauma formed biblical worldviews, such as the apocalyptic worldview as espoused in biblical books such as Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel? As a reading community, how does the church provide a safe, Spirit-filled space in which trauma informs how people interpret and apply the Bible to issues related to justice and evangelism. Joe considers this a part of his personal “Ministry of Reconciliation” as prescribed by 2 Corinthians 5.
For nearly 6 years, Joe shepherded Trinity Baptist Church in Conyers, Georgia, a community born out of the trauma of Southern Baptist conflict and identity. Now, Joe serves as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Vero Beach, whose own mission navigates a shifting culture in a growing beach-front community.
In his capacity as pastor and chaplain, Joe has provided support and advocacy for those facing anxiety disorders (such as bi-polar disorder), PTSD, Institutional Betrayal, and gun-violence related trauma. Joe has been informed by — and has endorsed the work of — Dr. Jennifer Baldwin, founder of The Center for Trauma-Sensitive Faith Leadership, as well as the work by Baptist ethicist David Gushee.