Greetings! Welcome to our web site. I’m glad that you stopped by. Given that this letter is under the “Visitor Info” section, I’m going to assume that the majority of you reading this are not part of the St. Andrew’s family. At least yet. This particular endeavor was a bit difficult for me. There are so many things I could mention to encourage you to come and check us out and become part of our church family. But, alas, I only have so much space. So how about a personal testimony of what essentially drew me to SAPC to become her pastor?
It all revolves around earrings.
Yeah, you read that right. Earrings. And to be more specific, my earrings. You see, before becoming a pastor, I was a professional musician. A trained percussionist, to be exact. One could find me rocking out in the arts district on Saturday evening and then playing tympani at church on Sunday morning. It was fun.
Doing what performing artists often do, there was a point in time when I wanted to enhance my stage image and had my ears pierced. The first one was in college. The second came later. I wore them all the time as a musician, though they were often subtly stated.
And then came Austin, Texas.
Austin prides itself on being weird. I lived there for seven years, and the last four of those were spent supporting my family as my wife got her Master’s degree. I found myself in between churches at one juncture and needing income, so I resorted to music to help put food on the table. During this time I looked around at the other musicians who were performing, and many of them had full tattoo sleeves, you-name-it pierced, and ear plugs the size of coffee saucers. Though I didn’t want to go to that extent to attract attention on stage, I did decide to increase the gauge of my hoop earrings, which was done professionally at a local tattoo and body piercing shop.
Yeah, I know. It’s probably a bit weird hearing this from a pastor. My defense? It’s difficult being in Rome and not being affected by what the Romans are doing. Just ask the Apostle Paul…
Truth told, even though the size of my earrings were relatively big for me, they were still conservative down in Austin. They were small enough that I could do pulpit supply on Sunday mornings and not get stoned for being a heathen.
Once Brenda got her degree, I started looking for churches again. We have family up in this area, so I started with Dallas. Lo and behold, I found this small congregation named St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, whose needs seemed to fit some of my strengths ― and vice versa. Long story short: I found myself getting ready one morning to drive up to Dallas for an interview with the search committee.
Let’s see. Suit? Check. Directions? Check. Bible? Check. Earrings? Check…
Wait. No, no, no. I almost forgot about those. They have got to go. At least for now. While these earrings are perfectly suitable for Austin, not so much for Dallas. Dallas doesn’t do weird. It’s much more cosmopolitan than that.
And that’s when the fun started.
I couldn’t figure out how to remove the darned things.
Lest ye think I’m a complete moron, these were not the type of earrings that one would buy at Claire’s Boutique. By design, they were built to stay. The guy at the shop even had to use tools to put them in.
You can imagine my wife’s reaction when I sheepishly told her, as we were about to walk out the door, that I couldn’t get them out. She then tried. No luck. Two people with Master’s degrees could not figure out how to remove them, and we eventually got to a point where we had to go.
Long story short. (I mean it this time.) I walked into my St. Andrew’s interview with a nice suit… and hoop earrings. I apologized profusely up front, but they seemed to shake it off. I couldn’t tell if they were just being polite and thinking, “Let’s get this over with so we can check him off the list,” or if the hospitality was genuine.
Turns out, it was the real deal. When they extended the call to me ― yes, even in spite of the earrings ― I knew that they were the church I wanted to serve, because if they welcomed me in that regard, one of their future leaders, they would certainly welcome most anyone.
Which is why you need to come and be with us.
I look forward to meeting you soon! May God bless you on your faith journey.
― Rev. Rob Leischner