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A Little About my Church Background

Jul 20 2011

I was raised Catholic by a very devout Catholic mother and a nonreligious father.  He, in turn, always said he was raised Lutheran even though he went to a Methodist church.  This was because his home town had no Lutheran church when he was a boy.  When I was 14, my mother died, and suddenly it became more important to my dad that I continue going to church.  By my senior year, when it was just he and I at home, we often went to the 8:00 PM Mass on Sundays, always commenting that it was a nice way to end the weekend and prepare for the following week of school and work.  I love the quiet majesty of Catholic churches; the mood of reverence; the art work and architecture.

In college, I began to explore other churches.  I finally settled into a Presbyterian church in a small town near when I attended school.  I found it 'cool' that there was a family in the church who, although unrelated, shared my last name: Hagerstrom.  Not exactly Smith or Jones.  That coincidence alone wasn't enough to keep me going there, though.  I enjoyed the small size of the congregation, and the beautiful bike ride to church on Sunday mornings, especially in the fall.  I appreciated how the congregation made me feel welcome right from the start.

After college, I got a teaching job in rural South Carolina.  One day, at the laundromat, I saw a sign advertising a folk singer who would be performing at a local Methodist church.  This appealed to me, so I made a mental note of the date,a nd attended.  This became my home church for three years.  I loved the southern tradition of the Methodist church; the long history it had in the community; and I became good friends with the pastor's son.  We started a ministry of juggling and illusions together.  We are both still in full time Christian service today.

I moved back to New England when Sue and I married in 1986.  We began attending an Assembly of  God church.  Quite different from anything I've experienced in the past.  The pastor was very good about utilizing our juggling immediately, and our ministry grew rapidly.  I loved the energy, the youth, the vision of this church.

When we moved to Bridgton and started a family, we joined the Bridgton Alliance Church, which is our home church today.  More than any other, we feel like part of a family here.  We love the part play in this local body of believers, and we know that the other members of the body will be there for us when we need them.

So, it is this history that serves as a foundation of how I think about churches, denominations, and the universal body of Christ.  These moves from church to church all had to do with relocation, not rebellion or hurt feelings.  And in making these moves, I've learned a lot and feel we can minister for a lot of diverse groups without being uncomfortable or making others uncomfortable. 

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The presentation was fun and encouraging... The gospel message was clear and encouraging. I purchased your book and just finished it. Your scope is broad and again encouraging. May God continue to bless your ministry. I will encourage others to read your book. -Parishioner of a local church

"Hey, I just wanted to say that was a great message in chapel today! It touched something:) thanks for doing it!" -High School Student  

"We are so grateful that you brought your amazing ministry back to our church this year... The Gospel message you bring applies to all!  It is such a positive, valuable work that you do."  -Coordinator of Christian Ed. UCC Church

"There's no questioning it. This is powerful stuff. It's extremely touching at times, never less than entertaining, and I see a lot of sincere love for Jesus in you guys."  -Dwight Lilies, song writer

The Lord has given you a wonderful window through which to present the Gospel!   - Field Director of Alliance Missions to Paraguay

"What a wonderful ministry to both children and adults.  In past years it has been a struggle to arrange programing that would hold the attention of all ages, but also challenge each heart with God's gift of Salvation.  Thank you for sharing your ministry."  -Sunday School Sup't.

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