The following are excerpts of from letters of recommendation.
Jim was a positive, creative and energetic team member. He volunteered to plan and lead special events and sections of our weekend retreats. Jim was especially good at sensing the “tone” of each group of adults and youth and adjusting activities to move the groups toward our common goals.
As a mentor, Jim brought the best out of each of “his” youth and helped them develop individual credo statements. The strength of Jim’s relationship with the youth that he mentored is displayed by the fact that they invite him to attend significant events in their young adult lives fully ten years after the Coming of Age experience.
– Mark Walker, Coming of Age Coordinator, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
One of Jim’s many strengths and resources, I believe, is that he is quick to laughter, and seems to be blessed with a fundamentally optimistic outlook. While he has acknowledged that this balancing act has been no easy task, he has greeted the challenges with trust in his call, thanks to his spouse and family for their unwavering support – and faith in his own resilience and commitment. As he has proven, Jim possesses remarkable tenacity.
The aspect I would like to lift up most pointedly, however, is the many ways I have seen Jim grow in his ability to seek and deeply, attentively, curiously receive feedback. Being a bright, outgoing, positive man with a string of business-world successes behind him, it would be easy for Jim to “take up space” and to fill a room with his self-confidence and naturally-gregarious personality. Over the years of his seminary training, I have seen Jim mindfully assess when to use a more tempered tone and posture in a variety of settings. And I have been truly touched by the depth of the questions he and I explored together about how his family of origin and his work experiences have shaped him. I have been very impressed by his openness to deeply listen to my thoughts and observations and explore his own questions and reflections about how his life experiences do (and will) impact his ministry – and how what might be a growth-edge can be redeemed and reframed into another credential for the life of ministry.
– Rev. Dottie Mathews, former Mentor and Associate Minister, Fox Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
In the classroom, Jim showed himself to be eager to grow into the best minister he could be. He was well tuned to the needs and sensitivities of his student colleagues, understanding of good process, and able to offer sharp insights and creative solutions. Balancing the enormous pressures of school, internships, family and work, he comported himself with an even temper and an unbridled enthusiasm. Over the years he grew into a perceptive preacher, and adept administrator, caring pastor and aspiring social activist who couches his vocational call in theological terms that speak to all viewpoints and orientations.
Jim’s maturity and ministerial suitability were also on display in his work as a student trustee. Student trustees have a difficult territory to traverse, for they must balance their principle duty of care to the Board while remaining accountable to the student body. Jim kept that balance with the best of them! He served as a true bridge for helping each body understand the roles, experiences and viewpoints of the other — even while voicing his own convictions.
– Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, President and Professor of Ministry, Meadville Lombard Theological School
My ordination was filled with friends and beloved colleagues speaking on my behalf.