Jon has been serving as Senior Pastor of The Summer Hill Memorial Church of Verona, Georgia for the past ten years. He is successful and well liked, but wants to push himself to earn a Doctor of Ministry degree. With a deadline for declaring his intended capstone project fast approaching he is frantically searching for a subject that will satisfy his faculty supervisor, Dr. Dan. Jon believes that a project focusing on funerals will be easy because he has a lot of experience, he is good at it, and it is a practical part of ministry. Dr. Dan believes this is a cop out for Jon and will not approve the proposed project.
During his search for a new proposal, Jon is visited by Reggie Cornelius. Reggie requests Jon’s guidance in resolving a conflict with his younger brother, Spike. According the last will and testament of the deceased mother, Reggie is now the sole owner of the family printing business. He expects to sell the business to a national corporation and use this inheritance to fund his long-awaited retirement. For the record, Spike received his inheritance thirty years ago when he coerced their father into splitting off his share. That early division of the family inheritance mirrors the model set forth in the famous Prodigal Son parable from the Gospel According to Luke. As in the ancient story, the loving father reinstated Spike when he returned home and went back to work in the family printing business. Now that the parents are deceased Spike believes he is entitled to a sizeable share of the proceeds from the sale of the company. He rightly argues that the value of the company has been significantly enhanced due to his specific contribution of skills and insight that his older brother Reggie does not possess. Spike is threatening to sabotage the sale of the business if his demands are not considered.
Jon will examine two key facets of this intersection—understanding what might be learned from Scripture regarding faith and business, and what might be learned in dialogue with business people. Meanwhile he is pulled in opposing directions. One moment he is responding to the needs of the poor of the community, including the Nelsons, a migrant working family who repeatedly requests The Hill for assistance. The next moment he is reaching out to the recently widowed Molly who is overwhelmed by receiving an unexpected large life insurance benefit.
In multiple sessions of private counsel with the elder Cornelius son, Jon listens as Reggie agonizes over the threat of Spike’s demands. If Reggie yields to Spike, Reggie loses a huge portion of what he expected was his retirement plan. If he resists Spike, he runs the risk of Spike’s threatened court ordered injunction which would scare away the buyer. Meanwhile, Spike is confronted with his own crisis, the surprise arrival of Jerome, whom Spike learns is his bastard son from a prior fling in New Orleans twenty years ago. Jerome eventually learns of the potential sale and believes he is entitled to some of Spike’s windfall.
Throughout this journey Jon is also addressing his own views of ministry, money, and wealth. Will a focus on the ministry to the wealthy divert him from his calling to be a minister to the disenfranchised, the poor, the needy? As he rises in his career as a clergy person, will he be tempted with the power that comes from financial and business success?
What you will feel toward this pastor named Jon is not what you might expect or may want to feel. When Robert Moon pulls back the clergy veil to reveal the inner thoughts and daily work of the congregational pastor, you will witness doubts, angst, fear, and struggle that are probably more like yours than that of priest we think lives in a fantasy world of spiritual piety.
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About the Author
After eighteen years as a pastor in Georgia and Florida, Moon spent the next fifteen years in executive and management leadership in healthcare and not-for-profit businesses in Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia. Since 2006, he has been a partner in Heritage Financial, LLC, a Wealth Management Firm in Gainesville, Virginia. His education includes a liberal arts degree in sociology from Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA; a Master of Divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, TX; a Doctor of Ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY, and a MBA from the University of Colorado-Denver.
Moon conducts workshops for clergy and seminary students to help them address their personal struggles with finance, business, and wealth while ministering to the disenfranchised and the poor. He has published two key books on that subject: My Pastor, My Money, and Why We're Not Talking-Bridging the Gap Between Pastors and Those with Wealth (2012), a non-fiction guide to facilitate conversation; In the Shade of the Sycamore Tree-Ministers Reflect the Subject of Wealth, (2015) a collection of 17 essays written by clergy persons representing several denominations. In All Saints Intersection-A Memoir (2014), a private publication for his two sons, he explores his own journey beginning with a childhood surrounded in an inner city ministry to the homeless, the addicted, the incarcerated. In sharp contrast to this childhood familiar with poverty, Moon has served as pastor and executive in some of the wealthiest enclaves of our nation. These contrasting venues of poverty and wealth underscores the challenge of today's ministry-balancing the diversity that embraces differences in races, ethnicity, and economic status.
Robert is available for workshops, seminars, and one-on-one private consultations that seek thoughtful reflection on how faith, business, wealth and inheritance intersect in real life experiences. He and his wife reside in the pastoral countryside of Northern Virginia. More information is available at www.JRobertMoon.com