WELCOME FROM OUR PASTOR!
“Love to the loveless shown/that they might know their loveliness.” This paraphrase from the hymn “My Song Is Love Unknown” conveys well our Love in Action focus at BPC — mediated through our Personal hospitality, our Passionate worship, and our Progressive outreach. Contrary to the standard m.o. of corporate and military institutions, whatever is good for the loveless is considered good for the whole here. Maintaining this focus on the power of love versus the love of power allows us to explore ways for the Spirit to employ our full humanity — good, bad, and ugly — for the benefit of serving God and others. And I have delighted in the fact that this spirit of service is employed by so many here in their personal callings (read, vocations) in their day-to-day life. You are invited to come worship and serve with us! Join us on our journey into Christ’s relational joy! — Gracia y Paz (Grace & Peace), Chuck
The Rev. Charles Booker began his ministry at BPC in mid-2009. He comes to Bethesda following 11 fruitful years as Pastor of Northside Presbyterian Church in Ann Arbor, MI. His ministry background ranges from serving interracial congregations in an AZ barrio and a CA ghetto to staffing a suburban church in NC and pastoring a rural charge in OK. In AZ and CA, he worked for four years resettling countless Central American refugees seeking sanctuary from torture and slaughter in their homelands.
Three life narratives serve as spiritual signposts for Chuck’s ministry of wounded healing and love in action:
- His struggle in his 20s with depression, alcoholism, and other drug addiction. His night-into-light journey includes four psychiatric and substance abuse hospitalizations in the mid-’80s, plus two alcoholism relapses in the early ’90s. "Through my frailties," Chuck says, "God in Christ has worked wonders with my life."
- His response to a call — based on his refugee and rainbow justice advocacy — to participate in several nonviolent resistance actions. In efforts to close what is known throughout Latin America as the “School of Assassins” — the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) — he is among 200-plus who have served federal prison time (in his case, 3 months in 2002) for the misdemeanor of walking onto the Ft. Benning, GA base where the school is located. Also, Chuck participated actively for two decades and at significant vocational cost in a resistance effort that changed national church policies discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identification. He was the first Presbyterian clergy to officiate at a legal same-gender wedding in the country (2005), and survived an official church complaint to serve his all-inclusive congregation in Ann Arbor and officiate both heterosexual and same-gender weddings there.
- His separation and divorce after a 20 year marriage. From this experience, he learned what it really means to be a father: being Single Dad for his son’s high school years. His son Andrew -- thriving as a collegian in the Midwest -- works in the Bethesda area during the summer.
Chuck’s vocational passions include writing, teaching, pastoral care, and interpreting the ways the Twelve Steps of spiritual recovery sing back to the church Christ’s original song. Currently, he serves as the Chair of National Capital Presbytery’s Pastor Care Team. He has served on the national boards of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, More Light Presbyterians and Presbyterian Health Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA). For his SOA prison witness, he has received the Presbyterian Peaceseeker Award.
For fun, Chuck catches up on Netflix of the seven years he missed of West Wing, does a lot of swimming, and plays a little golf (he boasts a two handicap: his right hand and his left hand).
Chuck resides in the Church House on-site – hey, it beats any Metro DC commute! Feel free to knock on his 7611 Clarendon door.