Background and Family
Bart grew up in Montgomery, Alabama, the product of two parents who loved him well. He has a sister four years his younger. He says, “being in a covenant family, it is difficult to say when I ‘became a Christian.’ My mom typically points to a decision I made as a four-year-old, yet my inclination is to say that this event occurred when I was seventeen at a leadership camp in the mountains of Northern California, a camp I returned to in college as a River Guide.”
He attended Furman University where he played football and baseball. Throughout college his faith was challenged by a philosophy professor, who questioned his students’ surface assumptions about life and faith to reach the “why” questions beneath them. This agnostic professor wanted his students to develop deep convictions regarding whatever they believed; convictions that would endure existential inquiry and life experience. The football team chaplain provided a counterpoint experience that helped Bart ground his intellectual inquiries into the Christian faith. This collegiate “back to faith” experience prompted Bart to have a passion for the curious and skeptical among us.
While in college, Bart pursued law school through his junior year, then began to feel the inward call of God’s spirit toward pastoral ministry. Bart says, “This was an irony of ironies, as my girlfriend at the time (now my wife), grew up a PK (preacher’s kid), and vowed never to marry a pastor, and I myself, as a disgruntled teen, vowed to never go into the ministry.” With the affirmation of his gifts and urging from many people, he finished college, married Katie, and attended seminary.
After seminary, he became the Pastor of Young Adults at Perimeter church, a large church in Atlanta, Georgia. While there, he gained invaluable experiences and opportunities to learn and grow as a minister. At some point during his tenure, he and Katie began to feel called to pursue church planting. At the end of a one-year season of prayer and discernment, Katie and Bart accepted a call from City Church in San Francisco in 2005 to plant a church in Berkeley.
Under Bart’s leadership, Christ Church in Berkeley has grown and now has a second campus in Oakland and a third in Lafayette. Bart says, “These nearly fifteen years in the Bay Area have been wonderful years. They have been both challenging and exhausting—yet our marriage is in a wonderful place, our kids are healthy, and by God’s grace, Christ Church has grown steadily.”
Bart says his wife Katie “is a spiritual powerhouse. She is a woman who is equally relational and organized, and she has a deep sense of self that comes through much dependence upon God.” Katie has a love for the church, its mission, and for enfolding people into the church family. They have been married for twenty-one years.
They have three daughters, Caroline (18), Clair (15), and Cammie (13). Caroline is a college freshman, Clair is a tenth grader, and Cammie is a seventh grader.