I Am Wilshire – Matt Cook.
Education: B.A. from Samford, M.Div. and Ph.D. from Baylor;
Profession: Director of the Center for Healthy Churches (consultant)
Present city: Dallas
Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to Allyson for 24 years. We’ve got two great kids, Nathaniel, our golfer, who’s about to graduate from Lake Highlands, and Caroline, our singer, who’s a sophomore at Lake Highlands.
How about your work or volunteer life?
I served in congregational ministry for 30 years. Now I’ve gone from working in “a” church to working in “THE” Church. I’m currently working on a huge new project designed to help congregations respond to political polarization. It’s challenging but meaningful work.
What are your favorite hobbies?
I’m a huge college football fan who roots for OU and I’m also a (mostly) devoted cyclist.
What brought you to Wilshire and when?
We joined Wilshire in 2019 when we moved to Dallas. All our family is in Texas, and so when my work put me into travel mode, we decided to come live close to them. As a former pastor, I’ve known and had relationships with people at Wilshire for my entire adult life. Joining Wilshire was an easy choice and a gift to us, as we felt immediately at home. Just in the last couple of weeks we’ve broken bread with five different couples who have become good friends in the three years we’ve been here. That gift is especially wonderful for me, given the fact that most Sundays I’m out serving in other churches across the country.
What do you think God is up to in your life right now?
For my personality type, when I’m learning, I’m in the best position to grow spiritually. Right now, I’m doing lots of learning around the idea of how to foster unity amidst diversity. One challenge of the cultural moment, it seems to me, is finding ways to advocate for the world we think God intends without developing disdain or hatred for our neighbors who don’t share our convictions. If I’m honest, trying to do that on my own can be exhausting. What’s been life-giving for me, though, is the growing realization that the dynamics of “us vs. them” are so very different when we include God in that relational dynamic. Somewhat to my surprise, contemplating the reality of our toxic political context has pushed me back toward the grace of God. Hopefully that’s not just an idea in my brain but something that is actually helping me be more humble and hospitable.
If you are interested in being featured in an upcoming I Am Wilshire article, contact Carolyn Murray(firstname.lastname@example.org)