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Where have they gone & where are they now? 

This month I continue with updates on some graduates of Biblical Seminary.  This month we visit with Jim Donnelly, a 1977 MDiv graduate. 

I began attending Biblical in 1972, graduating with a Master of Divinity Degree in 1977.

Soon after, I found myself pursuing both marriage and a pastorate.  My wife, Peg (nee Jerchau) and I have been married for 33 years, and have four wonderful children: Amy and her husband Thom Smith live in New Hampshire with our five grandsons, and one granddaughter, all under ten years of age.

Jill lives in Queens Astoria, New York, and works in Manhattan for an investment firm.  Tim and his wife Bethany, newlyweds, live in Lynchburg, Virginia.  And Stephen, our one day old and yet 23, who has preceded us to Heaven, we look forward to being with him once again.  Peg’s Dad, Al Jerchau, age 87 lives with us in Souderton.

I have two memories while at Biblical, one sublime the other mysterious.  The first occurred while I was studying  on a Friday night, in the library, on the second floor, just above the Chapel;  when  suddenly  I heard the voice of Elford Stephens, singing “My Anchor Holds”, again, and again and again, while he practiced for  Chapel.  I love that song that Elford engrained in my soul that night.  The other, at 8 a.m., a normal class day, yet abnormality in the classroom; as students arrived, there in the middle of the room, standing on a chair was Ed Welch, just staring into space.  To this day, his bizarre and unique behavior remains one of those unsolved mysteries.

From 1978 to 1989 Peg and I served a Conservative Baptist Church in Secane, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.  Peg and I had the privilege during that time at Secane of co-pastoring with Wayne and Beth Heffelfinger, for 2 and a half years, Wayne is a Biblical Alum ’87.  After 3 years pastoring, I was encouraged to pursue the Army Chaplaincy.  In 1983 I was commissioned into the United States Army as a Reserve Chaplain.  In 1987, I had completed all the course requirements for a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation located in Laverock, PA.   In 1990, I had deployment orders in hand for Operation Desert Storm, Saudi Arabia.  During that time of war, Peg and I were experiencing one of the greatest storms of our life, we lost our fourth child, who was born almost full-term, and we wept uncontrollably as we named him Stephen James and said our goodbyes the same day he was born.  In the early 90’s I was asked by Peg’s parents to consider managing the family business with their son Chris.  I have now been there for these past 21 years, helping to run C.L.Weber & Co., a wholesale supplier of Industrial Pipe, Valves, and Fittings.

Soon after 911, the 1215th Garrison Support Unit, Willow Grove, PA mobilized at Fort Drum, the home of the 10th Mountain Division.  I was the Unit’s Chaplain and spent the next two and a half years working with the Installation and Division Chaplains, as we saw over 20,000 Soldiers deploy downrange to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait.  Mine was the privilege of serving many of these Soldiers and their Families, many of whom were National Guard and Reserve forces, mobilizing at Fort Drum, New York, just south of Canada.  Upon leaving Fort Drum in 2004, I spent the next several years serving with the 99th Regional Support Command in Pittsburgh, PA, as we continued to deploy forces in the continuing war on terror.  Our nation is not able to fully understand the sacrifice and suffering of our men and women in the Armed Forces, their families and their communities that have served and suffered along with them these many years now.  In June of 2007 I retired from the Army after 27 years in the Military, this includes 4 years Active Air Force, in my pre-Biblical days. Currently, my wife and I are members of Calvary Church in Souderton, Pa.  I am working on a commentary on the Book of Ecclesiastes, which I began back in 1983.  There is a time for everything, so I started a BLOG http://tomantheorg.wordpress.com. I cannot think of a better way to represent my class at Biblical than continuing to be actively engaged in this verse “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Colossians 1:28.  My deep appreciation to all at Biblical, faculty and staff, who prepared me for the work of the Gospel these many years.  Jim Donnelly Class ’77.


Charles Zimmerman is the Thomas V. Taylor Professor of Practical Theology.  He also serves as Teaching Pastor at Calvary Church in Souderton.  He is married to Kim and they have two daughters, Ashley and Megan.

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