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A native of Phoenix, David received a music education degree from Arizona State University before attending Boston University School of Theology where he earned his MDiv in Biblical Studies and History. Before completing Chaplaincy training at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center, David spent a year studying as a Rotary Graduate Scholar at Perth Theological Hall of Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia. There he received an Honours degree and a taste for Promite.
David spent eight years as Associate Pastor and Co-pastor at Epworth United Methodist in West Phoenix and was appointed to start a new church in the Northeast Scottsdale area in July of 1998. Starting from scratch, Via de Cristo grew into a dynamic faith community serving a niche group of spiritual seekers and those who would otherwise be “church alumni”.
In an effort to offer educational materials that were not being produced by other publishers, David and fellow United Methodist pastor, Jeff Procter-Murphy, created a new curriculum for Progressive Christians called Living the Questions. Developed at Via de Cristo and Asbury United Methodist, what started out as just one DVD series is now a growing catalog of curriculum, including “DreamThinkBeDo,” “Saving Jesus Redux,” “Matt & Lucy’s Version Births” (a Children’s Christmas Pageant), and a series questioning capital punishment with Sr. Helen Prejean. New series include “Painting the Stars” and “The Jesus Fatwah: Love Your Muslim Neighbor As Yourself.” LtQ curriculum is now in use in nearly 6,000 churches in North America, Europe, and Australia/New Zealand.
David and co-author, Jeff Procter-Murphy, published their fist book together in 2012: “Living the Questions, the Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.” Published by HarperOne, the book is available for browsing online HERE.
Although David is a full-time pastor, he’s never strayed far from his roots as a musician. You’ll often find him playing in a variety of worship and concert settings, including on a number of CDs by Roman Catholic musicians like Norbert Zwickl, Paul Hillebrand, and Tim & Julie Smith. He’s also played with Peter Torsiello, Ken Medema, James Ward, Jaime Cortez, and in his brother’s Washington-based big band, The Eric Felten Orchestra. Most recently, David played on some of the tracks of pianist and composer Barb Catlin’s “Living the Questions” CD, “The Summons”. He currently can be found playing soprano sax in The Fountain Hills Saxophone Quartet.
In the wider community, David is one of the founding directors of the Arizona Foundation for Contemporary Theology and is one of the founders of No Longer Silent: Clergy for Justice, a group advocating for the full inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people both in the church and in the community. David is currently serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board of Boston University’s School of Theology and on the board of the Phoenix Chapter of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.
David’s wife, Laura, is an administrator in the Paradise Valley School District. They are the proud parents of Nathaniel, Mattie, and Sam (and a menagerie of furry, finned, and feathered friends). They live in Phoenix.
Awards and Recognitions
- 2011 Recipient of the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona’s “Building Bridges Award” The ISBA Building Bridges Award is given to individuals or organizations in Arizona who have shown a sincere commitment towards building bridges of understanding between different communities through education.
- 2012 Recipient of the Phoenix Business Journal’s “Diversity Champion” Award. This annual award honors businesses and individuals who have shown exceptional commitment to promoting practices that advance diversity in the workplace and in business leadership.
- 2015 Boston University School of Theology Alumni of the Month (April 2015)
- 2015 Recipient of the Reconciling Ministry Network’s “Voice in the Wilderness” Award “given for taking risks, despite isolation in a wilderness, to proclaim the rightness of inclusion for all people in the church, and for standing against injustice despite the lack of support.”
Conferences and Presentations
- 2009 LtQ UK tour (including London, Iona, and Glasgow) Workshop Leader
- 2010 Common Dreams Conference in Sydney, NSW, Australia Keynote Speaker/Workshop Leader
- 2011 Canadian Centre for Progressive Christianity Conference in London Workshop Leader
- 2012 Cal-Nevada Retired Clergy Association Retreat Keynote Speaker/Workshop Leader
- 2013 Pilgrim UCC Summer Lecture Series Keynote Speaker/Preacher
- 2013 Common Dreams Conference in Canberra, ACT, Australia Keynote Speaker
- 2015 Epiphany Explorations in Victoria, BC Keynote Speaker
Shall the Fundamentalists Win?
One of the most influential sermons in David’s life has been Harry Emerson Fosdick’s “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” – first preached in 1922. Posting “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” on the websites of the churches he’s served has been an effective outreach tool. After reading the sermon, many have reported thinking, “If that’s what they preach at this church, then I can go to church again!” Not bad for a sermon that’s nearly 100 years old! To read the sermon (reproduced here with permission), Click HERE