27 Years of being a Reverend…

Twenty-seven years ago I was officially ordained as a Minister of the Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church USA. Two years ago I was not actively serving a local church. I wrote this blog two years ago not believing I would ever serve a church again as I had taken on the role of Vice President for Philanthropy at the University of Dubuque and the Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa.
Here is my blog from two years ago! I am so honored and humbled and thrilled to be able to proclaim at the top of my lungs that I am once again serving God through the leading and serving a local church – Mountain View Presbyterian Church, Las Vegas, Nevada as their Pastor!
Thank you God!
Thank you Mountain View Presbyterian Church!
And thank you to Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia where it all started 27 years ago!

25 Years of Being the Reverend

Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church
Augusta, Georgia

Twenty-five years ago on this day, August 28, 1988 in the presence of family and friends at the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia, with the Reverend Dr. G. Daniel McCall preaching, I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

I have been known as the Reverend David W. Dendy for the last 25 years…

During that stint I have had the complete and utter privilege and joy of serving the Lord in a variety of capacities.

1988-1995 – Associate Pastor, Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church, Augusta, Georgia

1995-1998 – Pastor of a New Church Development, Trinity Church, Katy, Texas (Houston, TX)

1998-2004 – Senior Executive Consultant, Resource Services Inc., Assisted 80 churches to raise $180 million dollars for the distinct purpose of Christian ministry.

2004-2012 – Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church, Klamath Falls, Oregon

2012 – Present – Vice President for Philanthropy, University of Dubuque, Dubuque, Iowa

What a journey it has been!

As “the Reverend” I have had the unique opportunity of being invited to be present during some of life’s most unforgettable moments.

Weddings…pronouncing with the authority that has been bestowed upon me to declare that a man and woman are now husband and wife. “You may now kiss the bride” has always been one of my favorite things to say.

Baptisms…pronouncing with authority that has been bestowed upon me that the grace, love,  forgiveness and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ is being washed over someone’s life making them “clean” and members of the body of Christ. There is nothing more humbling and at the same time more exhilarating than placing my hand on the head of another child of God and declaring such things.

Funerals – pronouncing with the authority that has been bestowed upon me the unbelievable good news that “though we die, yet shall we live again!” One illustration that became a “signature” of mine during funerals was likening heaven to a huge football stadium with the stands filled with all the saints that have gone on before us and with God standing at the 50 yard line. And there we stand at the tunnel ready to run onto the field of heaven. And then we hear our name being called over the loud speakers and we run out onto the field with the stadium rocking in applause and laughter and we are running as fast as we can and there is the open arms of God waiting to swoop us up at midfield! Wow!!! How much fun is that to declare to a grieving family.

Praying – Is there anything more intimate than sitting knee to knee hand in hand with someone and praying with them? Or placing my arm around the shoulder of a complete stranger and entering into the presence of God through prayer with that person?

Conversion and Discipleship – To be a witness to the life changing power and transformation of people going from being lost to being found has been the greatest privilege of all. Wow!!

Preaching – The challenge of taking the two dimensional, black and white print of the Bible and allowing it to become the three dimensional, colorful, inspired word of God that invigorates, regenerates, inspires, transforms and fuels people for the week ahead is like nothing else. To be sensitive to the moving of the Holy Spirit during the preaching of the Word is nerve racking, raw and a complete thrill.

The Chill Bumps – In 25 years of being a pastor one of the clues that God was with me during a worship service was getting the chill bumps at some point in time during the service. It happened without fail during every worship service. Those chill bumps covering my body might happen during announcements or during a song or during the reading of scripture or right smack during the middle of preaching. Those chill bumps became for me the weekly fulfillment of the promise of Jesus, “I am with you always…”

The Lord’s Supper – To touch the bread, to hold the bread, to break the bread, to serve the bread, to taste the bread, to pour the juice, to hear the juice, to taste the juice, to watch the people come forward to partake, to speak the words, “On the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread…”, to announce with great authority that we eat this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of Jesus and for the remission of our sins, to experience all of that in a brief moment was a highlight.

The People – Oh the people that the Lord has placed in my life over the last 25 years. Is there any greater privilege than being invited into people’s lives and become a part of their world and life and see the incredible creative spirit of God in so many different people. Wow! Thank you Lord!!

My iWitness…

I could go on and on…

Let me leave you with the words I leave with people at the end of every worship service in which I am honored to lead…

“Go forth into the world in peace
Be of good courage
Hold fast to that which is good
Render to no one evil for evil
Strengthen the fainthearted
Support the weak
Love and serve the Lord with gladness and joy
Honor all people
Laugh often!
Fear not!

Go forth knowing that the unconditional love of God the Father Almighty
The Amazing Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

The fellowship, communion and the power of the Holy Spirit is with you now
And forever and ever.
And everyone said,

Go get ’em”

To all of you who have been a part of my life, my world, my ministry, there are no words to describe the compete honor it has been and continues to be for me to walk this road with you and for you to walk this road with me…

Thank you!!!
I love you all more than you know…

And that’s my iWitness…
Laugh often and Fear not!

ps – Thank you Julie for always being in the front row, cheering me on, enduring my “family” stories and giving me that slight nod of the head that always said, “Well done David… well done!”

What does your Billboard say?

Driving home from Reno, Nevada last week my eyes were drawn to a tattered vintage billboard on the opposite side of the road. As I approached from its backside, it was obvious that years ago six telephone pole type timbers had been securely placed vertically into the ground for support. Ten horizontal slats of wood had been meticulously placed across those six timbers to hold up the twenty or so four by eight pieces of plywood that would make up the billboard.

Much like the billboard pictured above, there were two or three pieces of plywood missing from this once proud billboard that in its heyday brilliantly advertiased to passing motorists a certain product or upcoming destination.

In fact, on this particular billboard the paint was so faded and other coverings for the billboard in more recent days were so tattered that it was literally impossible to figure out what the billboard was advertising.

With faded paint, torn coverings and missing pieces, this billboard had lost its primary purpose: capture a driver’s attention and create a memorable impression.


Seeing this billboard along the highway along with many other billboards which were newer, more vibrant, and more colorful, with clear, concise and memorable messages, my heart was stirred to ponder, “What does my “Billboard” say?”

The scriptures are pock full of allusions to the fact that our life is a light for all to see, pointing people to Jesus who is in turn the Light of the world. We are subsequently called to live a life that shines bright the joy of Jesus, capturing the people’s attention around us and creating a memorable impression of said such joy…

Which leads me to ask myself (I’ll let you listen along), “What does the billboard of my life project, say, communicate and convey? Am I capturing the attention of those that pass me by on a daily basis with a memorable impression of the love of God?”

I wonder…

Do you wonder the same thing?

Or am I alone in this???

Here’s the paradoxical good news:
First, no matter how tattered the current condition of our billboard may be, God has an amazing ability to restore, regenerate and recreate a beautiful memorable message for all to see.
Secondly, no matter how tattered the current condition of our billboard may be, God has an amazing ability to speak to those who pass us by through our brokenness and “tatteredness.” How amazing is that!!

So, fellow billboards, straighten up and stand tall! I look forward to our paths crossing and my attention being captured by your memorable, unique and beautiful billboard!

Praise be to God! (That would be a good Billboard!)

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” (Matthew 5: 14-15)

Laugh often and Fear not!


The Music Stops…

My grandfather, the Reverend Dr. Marshall C. Dendy, Sr. served the Presbyterian Church for over sixty years. He was the pastor of numerous churches in the deep South and from 1952 to 1968 served as the Secretary to the Board of Christian Education for the Presbyterian Church U.S in Richmond, Virginia.

One of the hallmarks of his leading the Board of Christian Education was the publication of the “Covenant Life Curriculum.” A curriculum that was used by five different Christian Church denominations.

Over twenty books were written for the curriculum. The books which stuck out in my mind the most were:
The Christian Life by Waldo Beach
The Mighty Acts of God by Arnold B. Rhodes
The Study of the Catechism: The Westminster Shorter Catechism for Families by Marshall C. Dendy, Sr. (My grandfather!!)
Through the Ages: A History of the Christian Church by Ernest T. Thompson

But the book par excellence for me over the past forty years of my life from the Covenant Life Curriculum was the gold standard:
Christian Doctrine by Shirley C. Guthrie, Jr.

I am not sure of the origin of why Shirley’s parents named their son Shirley, but nonetheless he served as the J.B. Green Professor of Systematic Theology at Columbia Seminary (Decatur, Georgia) for over forty years. Shirley passed away in 2004, leaving a lasting legacy of Christian faith, discipleship and love for the Church.

If you are a pastor or seminary student or a lifelong Presbyterian, Shirley Guthrie’s book, Christian Doctrine is surely on your shelf in your library.

Last weekend, I was back at my Alma Mater of Davidson College officiating the wedding of two Davidson College graduates, Sarah Satterwhite (’11) and Dean Williams (’11) at the historic Davidson College Presbyterian Church. I went to college with Sarah’s mom and dad, Katie (’84) and Bill Satterwhite (’84). I have watched Sarah grow up her entire life. I was so honored and humbled to be asked to officiate her wedding.

It was a beautiful wedding with nine gorgeous bridesmaids and eight handsome groomsmen. Great hymns were sung and thoughtful, inspiring scriptures were read. We officially “tied the knot” around 5:37 pm on Saturday, July 25th. Thousands of photos were taken after the wedding and then we were off to the reception, held in Charlotte, NC, about a thirty minute jaunt down I-77.

At the reception the time came for the bride and groom to be officially introduced in order to begin their official dance together. The dance floor cleared and adoring friends and family members watched these two love birds dance.

As they were dancing, a striking, elegant older lady in her early 80’s in a gorgeous sky blue evening dress approached me, held me by the arm and said in the most perfect southern Georgia drawl, “Daaaavid, my name is Vivian Guthrie.” I looked down into her dancing, sparkling eyes and asked, “Are you Shirley Guthrie’s wife?” She gave pause, her lips parted into a wide smile and she said, “Yes, I was.”

Now it was time for my eyes to light up! I said, “My grandfather was Marshall Dendy.” I didn’t think her smile could get any bigger. “Oh Daaaavid! When I saw your name in the wedding program I just knew it had to be so.” She reached up and wrapped her arms around my neck as if I was kin.

The evening progressed with lots of dancing and conversation and the rekindling of some friendships that had been dormant for the past thirty years.

The nine man band announced that the last song was going to be played and then the bride and groom would be off to enjoy their honeymoon. The band started in on the oldie but goodie, “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry. The people went crazy and the dancing turned into a frenzied mob…

I stood patiently at the back of the dance floor talking with my dear friend Bill (the Father of the Bride). All of a sudden I noticed dancing in front of me was Vivian Guthrie…all by herself.

I could not help myself. I ran forward, grabbed her by the hand and started twirling her around and we looked like two “swingers” from the 1920’s. Around and around we were dancing a jig like nobody’s business. This lady could dance! She still had some major moves and was dancing in step to the rhythm of the beat. She was not going to be denied!

This went on for a few minutes and I thought to myself, “Well, surely Vivian will need to stop very shortly. I mean, for goodness sake, she’s in her 80’s and how long can she keep up this pace?”

We kept dancing and twirling and swinging and dancing and then it finally hit me like a ton of Covenant Life Curriculum books, “Vivian is not going to stop dancing with me until the music stops…”


As a pastor, one of my responsibilities and privileges is to officiate funerals.

I cannot even begin to tell you how many people I have buried that figuratively died at 55, but we didn’t bury them until they were in their 80’s.

Read the above paragraph one more time, just to let it sink in…

I have seen it…
You have seen it…

Someone, for some reason, some of them legitimate reasons, walk off the dance floor of life while the music is still playing. Their dancing comes to an end. Their love of swing has swung, and they’re done while the band plays on…

I am wondering if God doesn’t have you by the hand swaying and dancing with you right now to whatever rhythms of life you are going through at the moment and is looking you in the eye and pleading with you, “Please dance with me until the music stops. Don’t stop now. Whatever you do, don’t stop before the music stops! There’s so much more of life in store for you, please (insert your name here) don’t stop dancing with Me, until the music stops…”

Laugh often and Fear not!

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10: 10)


ps – What a small world we live in…Vivian Guthrie was roommates with Sarah’s (the bride) grandmother at Agnes Scott College back in the early 1950’s. And there they were together, roommates from long ago still celebrating life together, still dancing until the music stops…