You grew up in Nashville?
I was born there, but my earliest memory was when we packed the U-Haul and drove to Atlanta for my dad to go to Candler (Theological Seminary). He’s a Baptist pastor, at Greater Piney Grove in Atlanta. So I grew up in Atlanta.
How do you think Atlanta was formative for you?It was a wonderful place. I have always been enthralled with the culture. My first school there was Our Lady of Lourdes, a Catholic school near the King home. It shaped my religion from an early age. But I was raised Baptist and was ordained a Baptist minister in 2002.
How did you make the switch to the Lutheran Church? I’ve been in our candidacy process about 1½ years. I came home to Atlanta for two years, from Chicago, to work with a friend doing urban ministry. This was St. Stephen’s Lutheran in Decatur. About as soon as I got there, he told me he was going to Philadelphia. I was in discernment about five or six years about becoming Lutheran. I already had the requisite courses, because I went to Lutheran Theological in Chicago. I’ll be ordained Nov. 30.
What’s your long-term goal? My ideal job is to be a university chaplain because it would cure both tastes of being in the church and academia. I’d also like to set up Lutheran Bible institutes, so the academy can come to the church.
What does your wife Kedra do? She’s an RN, and works in general surgery at St. Francis.
How did you meet? At Eckerd Drugs in Decatur. I was working there. Saturday was always our busiest day. She was standing in line and our eyes met. We had a store policy that if you have three or four people in line, you had to call for help. But I hurried to get through the other people so we could talk. This was 13 years ago. We exchanged numbers, but then we lost touch. Then in September 1997, as she says, she got out of her bed and went to my father’s church. We married a little over five years ago.
Talk about your time in West Africa. I went there for an internship, through the Center for World Hunger and Peace. They were recruiting more minorities. I was there for the summer of 1999. We worked on latrines and health awareness. I learned about the importance of community.
Did it upset the applecart (in your family) when you switched denominations?No. My dad is very ecumenical. He did his D.Min. work at McCormick (a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago).
You’ll be here at least two years. What will be your task? A lot of it will be discerning the needs for community outreach. First, I have to get the larger community. I want to know where the “center” of town is — Is it the schools, or maybe the beauty shop or the mall?Flippin graduated in 1998 from Morehouse College in Atlanta; from the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta in 2002 . He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. from Lutheran School of Theology, as well as a Doctor of Ministry degree from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio.