Having a restored relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life, and to offer that same restoration to the people that God allows me to encounter throughout this journey on earth is my chief goal in life. My real faith journey started when I had a Sunday school teacher who challenged our class to read the Bible, asking one question as we read. If I were to really live out what this Bible teaches, how would that affect my life?” If we ever meet up, ask me about that someday.
At 21 years of age I accepted as offer from the Cleveland District Superintendent to assume the pastorate of 3 c churches in Meigs County, Tennessee. I was pastor of these churches for 10 years, and also worked various farms as I finished my college and seminary educations. During this time, I met my wife, Diana, at Lee University. We graduated on May 7 of 1983 and got married on May 14. We are the parents to three children; David, Kathleen and Zak.
I graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary in December of 1988 and was transferred to the Charleston/Valley Head Circuit in June of 1989. I became an Elder in Full connection of the Untied Methodist church in 1991 and we moved to Soddy UMC in June of 1992. We served there for 6 years, establishing a food pantry and remodeling the sanctuary of the church as our need to provide more space for church growth as a=our worshipping congregation grew. WE were transferred to St. John UMC where I was minister of outreach. While there I was involved in binging what is now Family Promise into the Chattanooga area, as well as doing ministry with the homeless community and in the (now gone) Harriet Tubman Projects.
In June of 2004, we were called to forrest Avenue UMc. This is where Mustard Tree Ministries (please note it is tree, not seed, for a reason) became a reality. Forrest Avenue was closed sometime around June of 2010. Our congregation of homeless, and various other people, then worshipped under Walnut Street Bridge for about a year.
We moved into First-Centenary UMC on Sunday evenings at 5:00 p.m. for worship and have now been worshipping there for about 12 years. We used Brainerd UMC for a while for our Wednesday outreach to the homeless community. In that we make homemade soup (anywhere form 10-15 gallons) along with sack lunches and go out a make friends. We also had a Thursday Bible study and meal at Gateway First Baptist church that lasted until covid stopped the world. Now every Thursday evening we take anywhere between 400 and 800 sack lunches into the College Hill Courts projects.
We have the use of 16.7 acres of land that once housed the Lighthouse UMC. We are planning a cottage community to provide affordable housing for some of the folks we serve, as well as jobs and food that we take into the food deserts of Chattanooga. There are many ways you can get involved, just ask us how and we will be glad to speak with you.
My family loves the outdoors, hiking, fishing, and farming. I especially love to duck and deer hunt. My kids and wife live the beach and I love the mountains, and we all love Puerto Rico (my wife’s home place). Diana is a Big Orange fan and the rest of us are LSU Bengal Tigers!
And one last thing, we all love missions, especially to the forgotten people of Eastern Europe (the Roma). Please ask me about this ministry as you will find some things about it on this site. I look forward to our getting to know each other as we offer God’s restoration and transformation together to those we are led to.
Geaux Tigers, Barry Kidwell