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Seeing a brilliant light

The Rev. Timothy B. Thomas

Position: Rector of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Pompano Beach

Other job experience: Former associate rector, Trinity Church, New Orleans; associate rector, St. Francis Episcopal Church, Potomac, Md.; assistant rector, Church of Our Savior, Chicago.

Other community posts: Member, Medical Ethics Committee, North Broward Medical Center, Pompano Beach.

Education: Bachelor of arts degree, with double major in psychology and religious studies, Indiana University, Bloomington; master's degree in divinity, Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, Evanston, Ill.

Personal: Age: 58. Born in Portland, Ind. Raised in Portland and in Traverse City, Mich. Florida resident since 1993.

Family: Wife, Marguerite. Son, Michael, died in 2002.

How did you get into your vocation?

I was 13 and reading a book one evening, and there was a brilliant light. I felt a sensation that was pure love. From that moment onward, God was calling me to the ministry.

If you couldn't be a minister, what would you be?

A musician. I grew up in a musical household, and as a kid I played piano and violin.

What book have you been recommending lately?

The Gospel of Thomas. It's an ancient text not included in the Bible. The book presents Jesus encouraging everybody to seek the experience of God.

Favorite vacation spot?

Flagler Beach. It's one of the few remaining funky little old Florida beach towns. It's very relaxing.

Favorite TV shows?

Law and Order. The characters are real people struggling with real, gritty life situations.

Favorite film(s)?

City Lights, with Charlie Chaplin. I found in his character a symbol of the eternal pilgrim.

A treasured possession?

Two letters of Charlie Chaplin. I discovered his movies in 1960s, when he was living in semi-retirement in Switzerland. I wrote him a fan letter and got a reply. Then I wrote him again and sent a photo from one of his films, The Cure. He sent back the photo, autographed with a nice note.

Do you have a hero?

Arturo Toscanini, a great opera conductor during the 1930s and 1940s. He took a stand against Hitler and Mussolini when he used his music as a voice for freedom.

Your most memorable spiritual experience?

My son was a naval flight officer and died in May 2002, during a training accident. But in May 2003, I was at home and saw a rainbow. I suddenly saw my son and felt his presence so strongly, I knew then that he was fine.

What's the most important thing you've ever learned?

I keep relearning that God is God and we are not.

— John Bernardo

Do you know someone we should profile? Tell Religion Editor James D. Davis at 954-356-4730 or jdavis @SunSentinel.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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