The Rev. Dr. Noel Schoonmaker is our preacher for the chartering worship service on December 5. I'm eager to see my friend, colleague, and preaching coach but my excitement is tempered with worry about what will happen after Noel leaves. Noel was trained at Wake Forest University Divinity School and Vanderbilt University by one of the most gifted preachers in the country. My boy has a Ph.D. in preaching, something I didn't even know existed until recently. But Noel's not merely a gifted preacher for the academy, he knows how to translate all that learning into a good word that will make you laugh, cry, and stare wondering how a country boy from Traveler's Rest with red hair and a preaching style that's clearly influenced by the African-American tradition isn't phony.
I won't tell you more other than this: when Noel leaves on Saturday the expectations for preaching at DOWNTOWN CHURCH will increase.
When we asked Noel for his bio to post here, he sent two versions. One is funny, Noel calls it the clown version, and it appears below. If you are curious about how an Ethiopian and a Devil Dog from TR got to be boys, read on.
The biography of Noel Schoonmaker as it relates to Amos Disasa
By: Noel Schoonmaker
In the fall of 1997, Noel Schoonmaker was the R.A. on Amos Disasa’s freshman hall at Presbyterian College. He and Amos quickly became friends and connected for several long touchdown passes in intramural football. After Noel transferred to Furman, he and Amos continued their friendship by spending the summer together with an evangelistic ministry in Myrtle Beach. The program taught such a hard-line theology that Noel and Amos started a splinter group that covertly met at Cracker Barrel to discuss alternative theological ideas.
After college, Noel and Amos both attended Wake Forest University Divinity School and participated in each other’s weddings. At one of Noel’s wedding showers, Amos debated another attendee at length about whether Oprah Winfrey is a Christian while Noel ate a hamburger. When Noel and Amos became pastors in neighboring states, Amos invited Noel to participate in the A&AAP (African and American Association of Preaching), a web-based forum in which Amos’s preacher friends offered feedback on each other’s sermons. In one of his critiques of Noel’s sermons, Amos wrote, “As a listener I couldn’t help but ask myself, ‘Who does he think he is?’”
In summary, Amos and Noel have been friends for 17 years and they once spent two hours at Barnes and Noble reading each other “Your Mama” jokes out loud.