A counselor and a deaconSteve Bunnell says his job is to be connected, not to be smart. Having been down a dark path of depression and misdirection himself and come out on the other side, he can speak to those in similar situations with the compassionate approach of a friend. He is considering writing a book based on his experience as a young adult which would be themed around the beauty that can grow up out of a crisis. 
I was born in New Jersey near the Jersey shore in 1951. I am the oldest of three children. My father was a very successful real estate broker on the Jersey shore and my mother taught Sunday School when I was younger.
Growing up, we weren’t even that religious. My brother and I sang in the boys’ choir at the Episcopal Church that my parents attended. Interestingly enough, that introduced me to a liturgical kind of worship service where the prayers come from the Book of Common Prayer. The music is traditional hymns and the people involved in the service wear robes. I myself wore a robe as a choir boy.
I went to public school up until the eighth grade and then I went to a boys’ boarding school, where I got a great education. I loved to read. That’s been a lifelong passion. From there, I went on to Harvard College, where I was an English major. There, I learned writing.
I was never an atheist, but from high school until after college, I did go through a time where I kind of walked away from faith and church. In my mid-20s, I suffered some quite severe emotional illness. I was hospitalized a number of times.
Through part of my illness, there was some very powerful spiritual content. I had never realized as a child that I could actually have a relationship with Jesus and that I needed to. In the midst of that crisis, I discovered “Hey, God is real! He’s important and He cares about me!” As a result of that season, I came back to faith. The worst day of my life became the best day of my life.
I taught writing at Bates College for 13 years at their writing workshop. I was one of six professional writers who were hired part-time to work one on one with students to improve their writing. The school had bought a house right across from campus where students would come in on hourly appointments to work on their papers.
We were trained in the Socratic Method. Our job was to ask the students questions about where improvements could possibly be made and then let them mainly figure it out themselves.
When I was around the age of 30, I was going back to church and staying at a boarding house in Portland. I went to the United Church of Christ, a very active inner-city church where I met my wife, Jean. I didn’t have a job and at the time, I was trying to teach myself jazz piano. The Ladies’ Guild had their own piano and Jean, as the administrator, was the one who kept the key to it. Jean and I had similar tastes. We liked to go to the movies, go see plays, and stuff like that.
We were buddies. After two or three years, we realized that we had stronger feelings for each other than we ever knew. The day after we found that out, we walked into the pastor’s office holding hands for the first time. When everyone saw us, they told us, “Well, it’s about time!” When I was 32, we married in a wonderful wedding at that church.
I had no idea that Biblical Counseling even existed until Jean had sent away for a catalog from Newman College in Pennsylvania. After working on student papers in Bates, I picked up this catalog and saw that it offered a graduate program in pastoral counseling. As I was reading up about it, I remember feeling like I was just burning up. I knew then that I needed to do this.
For two years, I kept teaching at Bates and flew down to Newman for classes. I got licensed by the state and stopped teaching at Bates. When I went to grad school, my training was ninety percent psychological and ten percent spiritual. Now, in my practice, from the tool belt of experience I’ve had with people and their problems, it’s the reverse.
It’s not ambition that brought on my becoming a deacon. It’s a calling. Jean and I visited churches together of different denominations that spoke to us, but three years ago, we ended up at the newly formed Anglican Church in Mechanic Falls. We visited and met with Father Gary Drinkwater and his wife to ask about it. I was asked to serve the communion cup and was elevated to the position of subdeacon. One Sunday, I again felt like I was burning up. At dinner time, I went out to Kentucky Fried Chicken and read through the curriculum for Logos House, an online Anglican school. As I read through the course descriptions, I started to burn even more. I had to know this information.
Father Gary called me the next morning asking how I was doing. I said, “I’m wrecked!” and he started to laugh. He asked, “What do you mean?” and I said, “I’m burning up!” He laughed some more and said, “Tell me more!” I said, “I can’t get this out of my head! I think I want to go on to be a deacon.” I hadn’t talked to Jean yet, but when I did, she laughed and said, “Well, it’s about time you realized that! I’ve known it for three months!”
I’ve completed my doctrine and leadership courses with Logos House and was recently confirmed. I’m still doing pastoral counseling. I never saw any of this coming, but looking at the work I’m doing nowadays, if I were to be completely retired, I’d be a wreck.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: