My becoming, and journey to Good Shepherd,
Father Herb B.
I am at heart a global village priest. My odyssey has been a journey to diverse cultures. I have shared intimately in various wisdom traditions, and experienced transformational times of the latter half of the 20th century. As a result, my Christian worldview is ecumenical, pragmatic, and intuitively person centered, embracing all peoples and their diverse spiritual experiences.
My past life seems but a preparation to serve the ecumenical, multi-ethnic, and international community of the English Congregation at the Church of the Good Shepherd.
I was born in South Georgia, the youngest of ten children, in the midst of the historical decline and fall of my grandfather’s plantation world. My family--like Scarlet O’ Hara in “Gone with the Wind”--denied the passing of their way of life. When their souls were challenged by dramatic changes all around, they responded in unison with: “We’ll think about it tomorrow.”
My world took a dramatic turn after my mother’s death. When I was fourteen, I went to live in Germany with my elder brother, his Jewish wife, a Jewish grandmother, two nephews and a niece. Then the surreal horrors of the holocaust were no longer a historical anomaly for me: they were present at our table embodied in the heart of my surrogate Jewish grandmother whose family and community members had perished in a sea of incomprehensible evil.
While my spiritual world at home was colored by a Jewish heritage, my heart became a palette upon which Lutheran, Baptists, Methodists, Episcopal and Roman Catholic Army Chaplains shaped my religious vision into a kaleidoscope of hues.
During my school days at Nuremberg American High School my membership and leadership in the International Junior Red Cross formed my secular worldview with a bent toward an altruistic, cosmopolitanism. Yet, I found this worldly orientation inadequate to motivate me toward a higher purpose for my life.
I began to find a higher calling for my life as I began to be more deeply involved in the life and service to the US Army Chapel community in Nuremberg. I came to believe that I was being called to be a compassionate disciple of Christ whose service is as host for people everywhere, who need the nourishment for life that only the infinite love of God can provide.
At 20, I returned to Georgia, committed to a higher calling to love and serve all mankind as my brothers and sisters. My aim was clear. I decided to answer the summons to ordained ministry.
A year later, I was licensed to preach in the Methodist Church and was assigned to be an itinerant preacher in a local mountain church. In 1965, I graduated from Berry Collage with a B.A. degree in Social Science and Religion. A year later, I was commissioned a US Army Reserve Chaplain.
After seminary at Duke Divinity School, I was an associate pastor at the Asbury United Methodist Church in Bettendorf, Iowa. During this same period, I completed a post-graduate degree in Sacred Theology at Dubuque University, Dubuque, Iowa.
In 1971, after a year’s internship in Clinical Pastoral Education at the Mayo Clinic, I joined the US Army Chaplain’s Branch. I served in Seoul, South Korea, and Mainz, Germany. While in Mainz, I received an M.A. degree in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University.
In 1978, I resigned from service in the Chaplain’s Branch and did post- graduate work in Counseling Psychology in San Diego, California. Two years later, I returned to active military service in the US Navy Chaplain’s Corps. I completed tours of duty in the Mediterranean, Hawaii, Japan and South Korea.
Upon retiring from the US Navy in 1993, I returned to my adopted hometown of San Diego, California. While doing post-graduate studies in Ethics, I also taught courses in Psychology, World Religion and Religion in America at San Marcus Community Collage. In 1997, I received a Doctor of Education in Leadership and was ordained a deacon and priest in the Episcopal Church.
The next year, I was called to serve as Vicar of the English Language Mission at the Seoul Anglican Cathedral. I also accepted a position as an Associate Collegiate Professor with University Collage, University of Maryland. From 1998 to 2004, I taught Psychology, Philosophy, Ethics, Organizational Behavior and Leadership Theory in Seoul, Japan, Singapore and Beijing. During these same years, I had assignments as English Evangelist at the Sung Myung Presbyterian Church in Seoul (the largest Presbyterian Church Congregation in the World), Interim Rector at St. Alban’s Anglican Church in Tokyo, and Pastor of the Congregation of Good Shepherd in Beijing.
Before coming to Taiwan, I served for two years as Interim Vicar at St. Mary’s-in-the-Valley in the Diocese of San Diego.
I am married to Elizabeth (Li Hua Han). Her son, Kenneth, is a student in Phoenix. Kenneth’s adorable and adoring Doberman Pinscher named “Coal” completes the family portrait.
I look forward to sharing my continued journey of “becoming” with you all at Good Shepherd. See you along the way.
Father Herb B.
The Rev. Dr. Herbert J. Barker, Priest-in-charge, Good Shepherd English Congregation