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Hagerstown native traded white coat for clerical collar

July 23, 2010|By MARLO BARNHART
  • Chris Wiles is associate pastor of teaching ministries at Tri-State Fellowship, a large spirit-driven congregation at 13153 Cearfoss Pike west of Hagerstown.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

In 2003, Chris Wiles was well on his way to pursuing a career in biochemistry for which he had trained and studied for four years at Hood College in Frederick, Md.

The Hagerstown native even had secured a position at Fort Detrick doing government research.

Now 28, Wiles looks back over the past seven years to see how differently things can turn out in life, even when one believes the path is clearly marked.

This son of Jay and Sue Wiles found he was being pulled in a different direction and by a powerful force. He knew he had to act on it.

Wiles became associate pastor of teaching ministries at Tri-State Fellowship, a large spirit-driven congregation at 13153 Cearfoss Pike west of Hagerstown. While some can't get beyond the diversity of Wiles' career change, it's not entirely a mystery to him.

"I have always studied the architecture of life," said Wiles, who said he sees his new career as a different leg of that quest.

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Randy Buchman, senior pastor of Tri-State Fellowship, recently announced that Wiles had joined the ministry team at the church, which recently was forced to pick up the pieces after the death of Beth Ostoich, a valued member of the team.

It was Buchman who first encouraged Wiles to follow his theological studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, where Buchman also studied.

"I came to Tri-State when I was a junior in college -- the first time," Wiles said of his worship life. When approached, he began volunteering in the evenings with the members of the congregation who were young and involved in careers and family.

"Within two years, I knew I had to go to seminary," Wiles said. "The glow of ministry was growing while all others were paling."

Wiles embarked on his second four-year educational career in Dallas and graduated in 2009 with a master of theology degree.

And he returned to Tri-State.

"Chris is a great communicator, a brilliant mind and a wonderful writer," Buchman said, noting he has been providing research and material for pastors across the country for the past four years. "I also like writing and together, we have some visions of producing some finely written materials on the life of faith to be made available in the community."

Wiles will lead the youth adult fellowship on Sunday and Wednesday nights as well as The Attic, a group that meets every third Friday. That is the more face-to-face part of the job.

Both things appeal to Wiles, although in different ways.

"With my research and writing, I can help pastors bridge the gap between the 1st century and the 21st century," Wiles said.

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