Hello. I’m Joshua Rhone. I am a product of western Pennsylvania, and despite living out-of-state on more than one occasion, I keep finding my way back. My parents are Doug and Karen Rhone. They are both ordained ministers in The Wesleyan Church, so I guess that makes me doubly a PK. Life in a pastor’s home wasn’t nearly as bad or traumatic as some have made it out to be. In fact, things were really good. My parents were youth pastors, so, from my perspective, we just had a lot of my friends hanging out at my house every day of the week and long into the night on weekends.
After graduating high school, I attended Houghton College, where I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Religion, with a ministerial concentration, in three and a half years. While attending Houghton, I started dating a girl from home. Crystal and I would marry the summer before I graduated. I completed my degree in December of 2004, and Crystal and I moved home in January of ’05. For the next few months I would work with Crystal’s father, assisting him with construction jobs. (How we landed back in Pennsylvania and not at a seminary or grad school is a story in and of itself.)
June of 2005 signaled a lot of firsts for us. We purchased our first home. (We still own it, although we don’t live in it. A renter currently does. However, if you’re interested in purchasing a place in West Chester, Ohio, I’m willing to entertain offers.) I was appointed to my first pastorate––my first solo pastorate. I preached my first message as pastor of a congregation. I led my first church board meeting. We experienced our first wounds in ministry.
Change happens quickly and unexpectedly. 2006 taught us that. The summer was eventful for us. At the urging of our district leadership, Crystal and I attended church planter assessment, at the headquarters of The Wesleyan Church, and were given a ‘green light’ to plant. Around that time, I resigned my pastorate and we entered into the process of praying, discerning and pursuing the planting of a church. That began a six to eight month period of time in which we explored church planting opportunities in the Greater Cincinnati area, and then in western Michigan.
Ultimately neither possibility panned out. Thus, sometime around mid-2007, we felt alone, adrift and quite uncertain about the future. Thankfully, it was about that time that Crystal and I discovered we were pregnant. It was news that resulted in a great deal of rejoicing. The news that we were going to be parents was soon followed by a promising interview that, in time, turned into an offer to come candidate at a church in Pennsylvania.
Joy turned to sorrow. The happiness and glee that we experienced was to be followed by heartache. While at a clinic, for a regularly scheduled prenatal visit, we were told by our doctor that Crystal had miscarried. It was news that sent our world spinning. We were to go to Pennsylvania a few days later to interview. Should we make the trip or not? We weren’t sure. But, in the end, we went, as the trip afforded us the opportunity to spend a few days being nurtured by family.
A second chance. My interview at the Mount Union Wesleyan Church went exceedingly well and I was offered the position. In heat of August, we packed up a Budget rental truck and returned to Pennsylvania, so that I could assume my second pastorate. It was a second chance for us. A second try at the pastoral life. An opportunity to see if things could be different.
From day one, things were different. The congregation was happy to have us, and we were happy to be here. My first and second meetings with the church board evidenced that this would be nothing like what we had previously experienced.
Our second chance extended beyond ministry, however. That fall, Crystal didn’t feel quite right. Things weren’t working quite as they should. Early at-home pregnancy tests suggested that she might be pregnant. (That possibility filled us both with excitement and dread). So Crystal made an appointment to visit the doctor. That appointment yielded an incredible shock––a shock that paved the way for a second chance at rejoicing. During that appointment, the doctor performed an ultrasound, in an attempt to make sure that there weren’t any visible problems that might interfere with a pregnancy. Much to our surprise, the image that we were greeted with was undeniably human. More specifically, it was a child in his fifth month of gestation. Needless to say, there was a lot of celebrating and phone calls in the hours and days that followed.
A long obedience in the same direction. That phrase encapsulates what Eugene Peterson believed about discipleship. Namely, it is neither quick nor instantaneous. It is also a phrase that summarizes my journey to grad school. While at Houghton, I fell in love with learning. I assumed that it was a love that would be expressed in a fashion similar to that of many of my peers––i.e., I believed that I would continue my education immediately after completing my undergraduate degree. And, in fact, everything seemed in place for me to travel down that path. It was not to be so, however.
While still in Ohio, I applied to the University of Dayton, in the hope of being accepted into their M.A. in Theology program. After months of waiting, I had heard nothing. Follow up emails and telephone conversations also proved fruitless. Whether it was God’s sense of humor or timing, I can’t really say for sure, but I received an invitation to study at the University of Dayton after Crystal and I returned to Pennsylvania. (Needless to say, I did not accept the invitation).
After welcoming our son, Quinton, into the world in the spring of 2008, Crystal and I felt that it was time for me to give seminary/grad school another attempt. This time, I settled on an M.A. in Ministry Leadership at George Fox Evangelical Seminary. The program would allow me to remain in my ministry context, complete the majority of my assignments and instruction online, with minimal residential requirements.
The next three years would not be easy. They would be an exercise in obedience and discipline. Pastoring full-time, caring for a young child, and being a good spouse meant a regimented schedule and little sleep were necessary. Things would become even more challenging, when in the spring of 2010, we welcomed our second child, Madison, into the world.
In the spring of 2011, I completed my M.A. in Ministry Leadership. However, instead of graduating with a MAML (our cohort often referred to it as one of the most ubiquitous degrees––after all, aren’t we all MAMmaLs?), I opted to stay on for another year and complete my M.Div. It was a year that would be extremely challenging, as Crystal would be diagnosed with cancer, and as both of my grandfathers would lose their battles with cancer.
When I successfully completed my MDiv in the spring of 2012, it became rather apparent that what I thought was the end was, in fact, just the beginning. With the encouragement of some professors, and the assistance of a friend who was in the process of completing his PhD, I contacted a potential doctoral supervisor and submitted an application to the University of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom, with the hope of beginning in the fall of 2012.
Two trips, multiple supervisions, and three proposals later, I am approximately half-way through the first draft of my thesis. My research explores the ecclesiology of John Wesley.
Lessons along the way. This meandering journey, known as my life, has resulted in many and varied experiences. Experiences that have forced me to learn new skills and further develop the ones that I already possessed. That is why, as you peruse my website, you will discover that it contains a variety of things: graphics that I’ve designed; articles, books and other things that I’ve written; and posts about ecclesiology, studying abroad and thesis writing, among other things.
In addition to these skills, I’m also knowledgeable about a host of others things. I’ve created websites and/or blogs for others on more than one occasion, and, at various times have been contracted to serve as either the web or social media manager for various companies. WordPress is the platform I’m most familiar with. I’m a coffee snob. I roast my own coffee, which means I’m passionate. I’m equally passionate about how my coffee is ground and brewed. Somewhat out of necessity, I’ve learned to make some things, which have saved us a ton of money: laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, protein bars, etc.
Of course, there are other things that interest me. But, I don’t want to bore you. Instead, I would rather hear from you. To that end, drop me an email, follow me on Twitter, or become my friend on Facebook. I’d love to chat with you about a shared interest, or I would be more than happy to talk with you regarding a project that you need completed.