Tobin Wilson was installed at Placentia Presbyterian Church on Sunday November 2. Recently we had a bit of time to chat. Here is a slice of his story.
Where are you from and where were you before coming to this call?
I’m originally from Chicago, the oldest of 3 boys – church folks of the Lutheran variety, very baseball-apple pie-chevy-sports kind of family.
For the past 15 years my family and I were living in Seattle, Washington.
Tell us a little bit about your faith story
From Chicago I moved to Minnesota to attend Bethel Christian College – primarily to play hockey and golf on the schools teams. Even though I had been church going all my life, nothing really clicked for me until Bethel when a relational component made sense and really clicked for me.
My life since has been seeking to hold those two strands – the awe and mystery of those early Lutheran years, with the new found relational component of my college years.
I did my M.Div. at Trinity (Chicago) and during that time began working with youth in a local congregation. After a couple of years my wife’s home church (which is Presbyterian) in Minnesota called us as youth pastors. It was my first encounter with the PC(USA) and I found myself at home there theologically. It was both a ‘wider’ stream’ but also one that emphasized connectionalism and had a depth of intellect.
What ‘aha’ moments have been significant in your formation?
During the 90’s when short-term mission trips were very popular as a strategy of discipleship and global impact I had the opportunity to go to Nairobi and teach youth ministry at Daystar University. It was there that God blew the doors off the way I approached ministry, global need, poverty, mobilization, indigenous leadership. It took me another 10 years to put words on that experience.
For the longest time I didn’t know what to do with this experience – I knew it was transformative, but didn’t know how to connect the dots. I began working as a mission pastor and continued to explore those issues both personally and pastorally. It was a shift from an old school paradigm of ‘Here is what we are going to do for you or to you’ to more of a ‘shoulder to shoulder with folks.’
What about your family?
My wife and I met at Bethel and got married right out of college. (She’s a nurse looking for employment in Orange County if anyone might have a connection!)
We have three grown daughters 18-27 years old. The eldest and her husband moved here with us. She works for Toms, is completing her masters in Global Studies, and works with undocumented Latino immigrants. Our middle is a nursing student. Our youngest is a freshman at Grand Canyon University.
I’m over the moon excited about the possibility for ministry here and neighborhood engagement – I’m thrilled to be at PPC!