Welcome David Altshuler, Pastoral Intern

DSC_0006I grew up across the bay in Mill Valley, which in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s was a mostly white, middle class community.My mother, Joyce, is a retired junior high school teacher and my father, Eugene, is a retired civil engineer.They still live in the house that I was raised and I’m grateful that I get to see them more often now.I also have an older sister, Amy, who’s a physical therapist, and lives with her family in Carmel Valley, California.If you were around in 1970, it was the year the popular song “Mill Valley” was recorded by a third grade class at Strawberry Point Elementary School.Adults used to ask me if I was involved in the recording because I was third grader in 1970.But alas, I was not.Truth be told, however, I sometimes lied about it to get attention.

I found the church in my early 40’s after career in corporate America that left me wanting in meaning and purpose.What I discovered about myself, however, was that I had passion for people, authenticity, and depth of relationship.At one point, I imagined becoming a talk show host or a storyteller because they both seemed to capture my deeper longings.But they weren’t to be.  When I told my sister that I might become a chaplain, she said, “Of course you’re going to be a chaplain.That’s what you’re all about.”It was a memorable moment, as my sister knows me better than most people.As time went on, I received similar feedback from friends and colleagues.

So, chaplaincy was a surprise vocation that wasn’t on my list of potential careers, but I discovered that it contained the main elements of my curiosity, joy, and challenge: one-on-one and small group relations, listening, God, storytelling, authenticity, meaning making, and intimacy.Other occupations I practiced over the years contained some of these elements, but none had them at their core. For the first time, I’m enjoying a career path.

What do I look forward to at St. John’s?  Since I didn’t grow up in church, I can still feel awkward and out of place on a Sunday morning.My hope is that my time with you might help me discover a joy of worship within the walls of a church community rather than only outside its walls as I did during my chaplain residency.I also look forward getting to know some of you, and discover some of the different ways that we can mutually enliven each other’s lives and faith journeys.  And in parallel, I hope that I might better understand who I am as a minister and potential leader.

Thank you again for your generous welcome.I sincerely look forward to my internship at St. John’s Presbyterian Church.

See you soon! David

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