Hello from South Bend
Dr. Glenn Sunshine
I grew up in a nominally Catholic home. I took my faith seriously, but I felt like something was missing. After trying (fortunately unsuccessfully) to find my way into the occult during junior high school, I heard the Gospel for the first time in terms I could understand from one of my older brothers who had recently become a believer. Over the next few years, I moved from the Catholic Church to an independent Gospel church and then into a Christian and Missionary Alliance church, where I stayed through high school.
I went to college at Michigan State University, intending to head to seminary when I graduated and become a pastor. Several important developments in my spiritual life occurred at MSU. I attended University Reformed Church, where I was introduced to Reformed Theology. The pastor, Tom Stark, discouraged me from seminary until I had gotten some life experience outside of school, and so I changed directions and ended up with a degree in Linguistics. Alongside Reformed theology, I was also introduced to the charismatic movement through Work of Christ, a charismatic community in East Lansing. I ultimately did not become involved with the community because of what seemed to me to be excesses in how they conducted themselves. Another key development came from one of my professors, W. Fred Graham, who introduced me to the cultural mandate. The idea that the Lordship of Christ extends into all parts of life has shaped my ministry ever since. And most importantly, I fell in love with Lynn, and we got married a few months after graduating.
After graduating, I got a job in Maryland as a technical writer in a computer company while I tried to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. We attended an Orthodox Presbyterian Church there, where I was ordained as a deacon. Most importantly, we also a small group studying the works of Francis Schaeffer which introduced me to apologetics and worldview. After three years, we decided I needed to go to grad school, and so I attended Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where I got an MA in Church History.
From TEDS I went on to the University of Wisconsin, where I got a second MA and a PhD in Renaissance/Reformation history. My dissertation focused on the development of presbyterian polity, which originated in France during the Wars of Religion. My research took me to Paris for an academic year on a Fulbright, where I attended an St. Michael’s Anglican Church. From the first time I walked through the doors, before I had spoken to anyone or the service had started, I felt like I had come home. The Spirit touched me there in a way that had never happened before and hasn’t happened since. In Wisconsin, I attended a Christian Reformed Church, where I led music, hosted small groups, designed services, and preached somewhat regularly for a time when we were between pastors. I also was ordained in the first class of elders when it became its own congregation rather than an outreach of the Madison CRC.
When I graduated, I taught for two years at Calvin College, then landed a tenure-track position at Central Connecticut State University. We eventually found our way to First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, founded in 1635. I taught adult Sunday School there—mostly seminary level English Bible classes—for 25 years.
During my time at the church, several things happened that changed the course of my life. Through a conference at the church, I was introduced to Chuck Colson. Chuck was given a cassette of a talk I had given, and as a result recruited me to teach in a new worldview training program he was starting called the Centurions program. From that point on, the focus of my work shifted from Reformation history to worldview. Through the Centurions program, I was introduced to Ken Boa, a theologian who is the most broad-based thinker I have ever encountered. Ken and I became friends, and he became my mentor and spiritual director. I owe a great deal of my spiritual formation over the last ten or more years to Ken. In particular, I have found his resources for lectio divina particularly important to reviving and refining my spiritual life.
Also through the Centurions program, I got to know people working with Christians in China and Mongolia, which led to mission trips to both countries and to Taiwan.
Through First Church, I met missiologist Jerry Trousdale and Shodankeh Johnson, the head of New Harvest Global Ministries in Sierra Leone, from whom I learned about Disciple Making Movements, a critical element in the explosion of Christianity in the Global South. This led to a collaboration with Jerry on The Kingdom Unleashed and to two trips to Sierra Leone.
I also began to collaborate with C.R. Wiley, a PCA pastor, and with Tom Price, a theologian, on a podcast called the Theology Pugcast. We’re currently getting in the vicinity of 10,000 downloads each week.
My ministry had developed enough by this point that it seemed the right time to seek ordination. My pastor agreed enthusiastically, and so we assembled a group of area pastors for an ordination exam. I passed, and so was ordained in February 2020, just before Covid hit.
Ken Boa and I had been talking about bringing me into his ministry for several years. By Fall of 2021, funding was available for me to join him, and so I retired from the university and moved to South Bend, Indiana, where both of my children lived, and where both were getting married. I have since settled into a PCA church there where one of my oldest and closest friends is an elder. I am currently an elder intern to give me time to consider if I have the bandwidth with my other ministries to join the Session. I had considered licensure in the PCA but rejected it, as it would likely have led to regular gigs doing pulpit supply, taking me away from my home congregation far more than I would like.
I found out about the CEEC through Kemper Crabb, whose music I have enjoyed since the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. When we interviewed him for the Pugcast, I was intrigued by what he said about the CEEC and decided to look into it. I was delighted to discover that it lines up closely on the things that I think are most important with my understanding of the Faith. Since I am no longer near the congregational church where I was ordained, I thought it important to find some affiliation to provide covering and accountability for me as a minister of the Gospel, and so I decided to pursue ordination in the Society of St. Patrick and St. Aidan.
Image of South Bend Provided by By Scott Palmer - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=123382177