This brief biography is provided for readers of this Christian web site. This bio is provided for listeners of my weekly radio program broadcast over the air waves into many parts of the world. Also, this bio is for other ordained ministry members of the church around the world regardless of the name of the denomination or group affiliations of these members in the body of Christ. Finally, this bio is for the curious observers who want to know what qualifications does one have to officially preach,teach and minister God's word in the church and to the world.
Born in 1952 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to parents who where born and lived in Bethlehem. My grandparents on both sides of the family lived in Bethlehem since the late 1800's on Mother's side and early 1900's on my father's side. My named grandfather moved from St John's Bay, New Foundland in 1909. The Hammond genealogy history lived and many still live today in St Johns Bay,NF. The Genealogy reveals the Hammond name, the first name listed on its official tax collection records in 1794. The family probably lived in St.John's Bay before any official tax records where kept. The genealogy reveals former family members lived earlier on "The Isle of Mann" also called "Isle of Man" in the earlier 1700's and possibly some family members lived on "The Jersey Isles" near England and France. Before this time, we trace the family line back to Prague, Czech into the 1600's. The records are lost before this time though it is probable there is a earlier family time connection to England. It is interesting to note, Dr John Hammond was the court Physician to King James 1, who authorized the King James Bible in 1611. We cannot claim certain genealogy connection but it is interesting to note.
Nevertheless, going back to Prague, I can not say with any certainty, if any family members lived during the time of Jan Hus (John Huss) and hearing his preaching in the "Bethlehem Chapel" in Prague in the early 1400's. Jan Hus died in 1415AD and is credited with the founding of the beginning of the Protestant movement. The Moravian church founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1741 under Nicolaus Ludwig, Count Von Zinzendorf who named Bethlehem on Christmas Eve December 25th 1741 and claims association with Jan Huss.
The Moravians lived in Moravia, Czech and associates its history as the oldest Protestant denomination in the world with Jan Hus. One of my graduate degree research paper's traced the founding of The Moravian Church. It discovered they experienced their own church Pentecost in 1727 according to ZinZendorf. Immediately thereafter, they started their 100 year 24/7 prayer meeting in Moravia. Soon thereafter, their missions program was established and they came to America into Savannah, Georgia in 1739. They then traveled by ship who George Whitfield owned into Philadelphia then land travel up to Nazareth, Pennsylvania who Evangelist Rev. George Whitefield, owned, named and founded as an educational center for the children orphanage he founded in Savannah called "Bethesda." This is the oldest continued orphanage in America and operates today in the same place. I have visited this orphanage several years ago. Rev. George Whitefield ( The great awakening of America time frame evangelist.), hired the Moravians to construct the buildings at Nazareth in 1740. One year latter the Moravians founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as their missionary sending town to preach the gospel. Their prayer meeting continued all this time for the remaining of the 100 years while in Bethlehem.
(The Moravian Rev. Peter Bohler greatly influenced John Wesley during John's search for Salvation by faith, not works. While at Oxford, England, John was convicted with unbelief and want of faith whereby alone we are saved. John was ready to stop preaching on holiness standards because of his uncertainy about his own soul. There he asked Peter, if he should stopped preaching for "want can I preach?" Peter told John to "preach faith til you have it and then because you have it, you will preach faith" concerning faith alone in Christ for salvation. ( Holiness living is after salvation.) This and their stormy sea journey to Savannah, a letter from Bohler and the London Aldersgate meeting of Luthers preface to the book of Romans brought salvation understanding of faith to John Wesley. Thereafter, John went on to be the great preacher he became. Including his Baptism in the Holy Spirit at Aldersgate. John regarded Peter as an elder figure and mentor. Peter Bohler lived in Bethlehem for several years. See: Christianhistoryinstitute.org on The Moravians and John Wesley. I have read several of Wesley's books at the Moravian Theological Library here in Bethlehem.)
Whitefield purchased the land he called Nazareth from William Penn's granddaughter " Ann." William Penn was a Quaker preacher from England who's father was Admiral Sir William Penn of the Royal Navy under King Charles II. William was given the land by King Charles as a financial debt he owed to his Father Admiral Penn. William founded his "Holy Experiment" plan in Pennsylvania ( Penn's woods) with the purpose of given new land to any persecuted Christian in Europe. His founding included giving voting rights to all citizens in Pennsylvania 1682. This was the first time in world history that the common person had the right to vote for their elected officials. Penn gave guidance to the voters by saying, the Christian voters should vote according to Christian values and principles. Noting that the Christian will be held accountable to Christ on the judgment day for how they voted. Also, any person elected by the voter would be held accountable for how they managed the affairs of the people or state on the same judgment day. This was history in the making with voting rights given through a servant of God, A preacher of Christ gave voting rights to common people. This is first time in human history for everyday people to vote for their elected officials. The founders of the US Constitution acknowldge Wiillam Penn's governing principles. Would the church today vote according to biblical values and principles? Williams Penn's "Holy Experiment" is not dead nor did it fail. It is only not known nor understood by the masses in the churches of America because not enough people talk about it!
The connection of all this Christian history with this biography is unusual, fascinating and God glorifying. As if, born out of due time to continue the connection that God had established through previous generations in order to tell the story which leads to Christ as Saviour. I hope this is received with open hearts and open minds on how God appointed one of his servants to preach Christ today in the 21st Century.
My grandfather, Thomas after leaving St. Johns Bay to come to Bethlehem, first lived in Manhattan, NYC,met and married grandmother in "The little church around the Corner" Manhattan, NYC. New Yorkers are familiar with this historic church in Manhatten.NYC. The Hammond genealogy traces its Christian roots to both Protestant and Catholic backgrounds. "The little church around the Corner" was Episcopal. The Church of England renamed itself in America and called itself Episcopal. My Grandfather Thomas was of the Catholic tradition but married in the Episcopal church. However, after being dissatisfied with his Catholic church surroundings in Bethlehem, he and Grandmother visited and became members of the Emmanuel Evangelical Congregational Church in Bethlehem in 1924. They remained members until each one passed on to the Lord.
My father was the oldest of four children was age thirteen at the time of Grandfather joining this congregation. This was a conservative Evangelical church that grew to over five hundred members in the 1960's. My Father, Milton or (Milt) told us that he got saved in a gospel tent meeting here in Bethlehem. I do not know who was preaching when this happened. History shows that Billy Sunday visited the EC Church to preach in the 20's. Billy Graham preached there in the 60's.
All the family attended ECC.I was raised in this same church. During Sunday School catechism in 1961, I gave my life to Jesus Christ by asking him and accepting him as my Savior. I knew exactly what I was doing when praying to accept Christ.The elder lady teaching this Sunday School class gave the seven or eight of us youth an altar call. I responded with a full conscience of knowing and believing in Jesus Christ. Oh yes, born again new birth at age nine. I knew it was real with out any doubt. Fully conscience of this fact and it was clear in my soul and felt good in my body. I was now in Christ in his church that he oversees.
As the years moved onward, I began to backslid into sin. When looking back in hindsight, the one cause of this backsliding was probably because of not having older men talk,counsel and mentor me somewhat on living life in Christ. The other cause was my own curious will about some things in life that all young males probably encounter and have to deal with its temptations.
As the years moved onward, I did not do well in public school. My grades were below average because of not being interested in the majority of classes in grades 7-12. The exception where classes or courses about business. I thought this was practical learning which could be used in life. Most of the other courses where near meaningless to me. My favorite time in high school was during study hall. This is where I could close my eyes and rest. I never did study in study hall during high school. I graduated from high school in 1971. The high school year book contains no accomplishments stated behind my name.
After high school, I was hitchhiking through the main street in Allentown, Pennsylvania one night. There was no one around and few cars. This was the main road to go to Bethlehem. It was right in front a church on the corner. I had a talk with the Lord while waiting for a next car to come by. I told the Lord that I knew that we was the Lord and did want to serve him. However, I wanted to find out about some things of life on my own first and then I'll return to him. Immediately, after praying this audible prayer, A twenty old something girl walked in front of me out of now where. She had a bible in her hand. She asked me, if I wanted to attend a bible study with her. I said no, not now and a car stopped to pick me up.She walked into that church building. The church was where they kept the Liberty Bell during the Revolutionary war in 1776.
I felt God was giving me a chance to choose him or the world. It was his grace to give me that chance that night. I reluctantly choose the temporary worldliness that my prayer talked about. In hindsight, this was a very dangerous thing to do.
Shortly thereafter, a high school friend and my-self hitchhiked across the US to California and back again. We slept outside in sleeping bags most of time We wanted to see America, the only way we could afford was hitchhiking.The trip took six weeks. I will not go into telling all the stories about this adventure due to the shortness of this Bio. However, upon returning home, we worked to get some more money and hitchhiked down to the Florida Keys. Upon returning from that trip, I received a letter in the mail stating that I needed to register for a possible Military draft. The Vietnam war was going on and the Military draft was being used. The last time the draft was used in the US before Vietnam was WW2.
After talking things over with my Father who enlisted in the Navy during WW2 and knowing my older brother who was already ten years in the Navy, I thought it was wise to enlist in the NAVY rather than taking the chance of being drafted. When your drafted, you have no choice of which branch of the military to serve. If you meet the physical and mental qualifications, you are told which branch you will go to for the next four years which is most likely the Army.
I enlisted in the Navy four years and qualified to become a radioman. I served in the Navy on shore base four years in a Communications Station at a Submarine Base then reenlisted for two more years to get onboard a US Destroyer as a radioman. After five years, I made it to the rank of 2nd Class Petty Officer. The Navy showed every indication that they wanted me to stay in for a career. But during this time in life, I was not sure what to do and had to think things over much more deeply. Eventually, I was discharged from active duty but volunteered to stay in the Naval Reserves for two years.
During those Navy years my backsliding continued. I drank beer and scotch whiskey when on liberty. Had many female acquaintances in many sea ports. Almost married a girl in Connecticut when stationed on land duty during those first four years. I was backslidden from following Christ but always conscience that I needed to return to the Lord. God had set things up to let me know in certain ways that he was still waiting for me. God even arranged for me to get shore duty those first four years which is almost unheard of for a young sailor. Years later, he even had a young woman witness to me about the Lord when coming out of a bar on the streets of Norfolk, VA in 1977. I told her, I knew the Lord Jesus but was backslidden. I said, I just wanted to see what the world was like before returning to the Lord. In retrospect, the Lord could have let me die somewhere out there because of my own rebellion against him. If he would have then I would have gone straight down to Hades for torment then into Hell.
Upon discharged from the Navy yet serving in the Naval Reserve in Bethlehem, Pa., I worked on the Railroad as a laborer. We pulled old railroad ties out from under the rails to replace them with new ties. One year latter, I was promoted to signal maintenance man to maintain the railroad crossing signals. During those eighteen months, I drank more scotch and was into the disco dancing craze. I had more girlfriends but did not want to settle down with anyone.
Becoming very restless, I quit the railroad, left my nice apartment and moved south to Houston,Texas for a change of atmosphere. Got a job, a new apartment and visited the high end bars and lounges for some lady friends. It was during this time that things caught up with me. It finally hit me! I was sick and tired of roaming the world for personal pleasures. I had to make a decision one way or the other. So, I left that lounge and walked across the street back to the new apartment. I got face down on the apartment floor and cried out to God. All night long, I cried out to God and repented of every sin that came into my mind. I asked the Lord, if he would take me back. I asked the Lord many times this same question and repented all night long with real tears of sorrow for living life my way. I was sick of life and wanted to come back home to the Lord, if we would have me. I was on that floor for about six hours when the sun came up shinning. I got up and looked out the glass sliding door feeling like a new man. I felt a wonderful peace all over me. I did not feel guilty with sins anymore. I knew the Lord forgave me. I knew he took me back into his care. I was forgiven and everything was forgotten by the Lord. This recommitment happened on October 8th 1979.
That same day I quit work and got an airline ticket back to Bethlehem, Pa, The apartment manager of this new big complex even gave me my deposit back with a smile when I told her I came back to the Lord and wanted to go back to Bethlehem. The airline ticket cost $200 and that is all the money I had. I flew back to Bethlehem from Houston. Called my Father to ask him, if I could come back home until I knew what I was going to do. He said sure, come on back home. It was like the Lord opened the doors for my return. The Lord was going to let me know what he wanted me to do for him. The prodigal son returned. To my surprise, I would learn that the Lord had plans with work to be done. He would make it very clear about those details.
TO BE CONTINUED