Why does the Evangelical Covenant Church have a lot of retirement homes?
It goes back to Sweden, when we were part of the Lutheran Church. In small Bible study groups, we read about compassion for the poor. That relationship is part of our DNA: If you love God, you'll love your neighbor.
What do you do to relax?
I take a trip to the ocean, either the Atlantic, or the real one, the Pacific (smile). Oregon is my favorite state. It has an ocean, mountains, rivers, valleys and waterfalls.
Favorite TV shows?
The CSIs. I'm fascinated with forensics.
Away From Her, about a woman who develops dementia, and how her husband has to grapple with the issues. We have a number of couples here where they have to deal with dementia. The film really hit home.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and gospel music. It tells a story. I did a paper in seminary on the roots of gospel.
Do you have a hero?
One is my great-grandmother, a missionary in Zululand.
When I went on a teaching mission in Ethiopia, the people there saw a picture of my great-grandmother in front of the hut where they lived. It was the same hut style. They said, "You must be our sister."
Another hero of mine is Sojourner Truth. She was a Christian and an articulate speaker, advocating abolition and women's rights.
What person in history would you like most to meet?
Paul. It would be interesting to sit and talk with him. I struggled with him awhile, over issues like the role of women and submission.
I'd like to know what he meant for specific situations in churches he was dealing with, and what he meant generally.
When I was younger, I was very shy. I had to work through issues of leadership and patriarchy.
What would you do if you had a year off?
I'd do more work in Bible languages like Hebrew. I'm fascinated with how language works.
What do you wish people understood about you?
Many people think the chaplaincy is a cushy job, where I sit and drink coffee. It's not. It's more like a church where people live. There's more engagement in their everyday lives.
When things get you down, how do you reconnect with the spirit?
I've had a long practice every morning where I pray and read a psalm a day. I call it my Bedrock Place.
Motto, or favorite Scripture verse?
"Be still and know that I am God." That can be also be rendered as, "Be quiet! Restrain yourself! Pipe down! Let God be God!"
What would you like most to be remembered for?
For being real. For using my gifts well. And over the last 15 to 20 years, for compassion and mercy.
James D. Davis
Other job experience: Interim pastorates in Rochester, N.Y., and St. Paul, Minn.; superintendent, East Coast Conference for Evangelical Covenant Church; hospital bacteriologist in Chicago and Rockford, Ill.; church consultant in north central and northeast states.
Education: Degree in biochemistry, North Park College; education certificate, Rockford College; master's degree in divinity, Luther Seminary, St. Paul; additional coursework at North Park Seminary, Chicago, and Bethel Seminary, St. Paul.
Personal: Age 61. Born in Everett, Wash.
Family: Married to Robert, American history teacher, Parkway Middle School, Fort Lauderdale. Children: One adult son (who asked not to be identified).
Do you know someone we should profile? Tell Religion Editor James D. Davis at 954-356-4730 or jdavis@SunSentinel.com.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun