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 ongoing persecution shape trauma within the early 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.
Joe has made an effort to become versed in racial reconciliation efforts, including facilitating Anglo-African American dialogue, educational opportunities, and partnerships in the church and in the community. Check out these resources for more information:
For race reconciliation efforts in Georgia, see the article “Together in Fellowship“
On the notion that Black Bodies Matter, see the sermon, “Christ’s Body Matters”:
Seeking the Non-Violent Ethic of Jesus as a thread in the Bible
There is no such thing as a “God of wrath in the Old Testament” and a “God of grace in the New Testament”, there is only one God from cover to cover: A God of unyielding love and grace. Even the Torah, the Law, is based on a covenant of love, and is not separate from that covenant of blessing that stretches from Abraham to Jesus.
Jesus’ own non-violent ethic as expressed most clearly in his ministry and the Sermon on the Mount was not a new idea in Jewish life, but rested on the values of God’s sanctity of life going back to the Garden of Eden and reaching into the Old Testament prophets.
We need not wrap Jesus in cultural garb, authoritarianism, and nationalism. Nor do we need to coerce faith into exclusive factionalism. We only need to trust in Jesus Christ as Lord. Check out Joe’s sermon on this topic…