About the Author

Preaching at the OCF West Coast Retreat December 2009

Rev. Fr. James Coles was born in 1967 in Dallas, TX. While in high school he got involved in Young Life (a Christian ministry to high school students) and went off to summer camp at Young Life’s Frontier Ranch in Colorado and, at age 15, began to live his life in Christ. In 1987, again at Frontier Ranch, he met his wife Karen during a college work week.

Upon graduation from Texas Tech in 1989 with a degree in Family Studies he moved to Tucson where he and Karen were married in 1990. After a short stint managing a Birkenstock shoe store he spent the next 6 years directing successful youth programs for Episcopal churches in Tucson, AZ and later Beverly Hills, CA. Highlights included dozens of ski trips, house building trips to Mexico and pilgrimages with teens to the Holy Land and the monastery in Taizé, France. Desiring to reach out to disaffected teens, Fr. James became Area Director of Young Life in Santa Fe, NM where he and his family would later convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.

In 2000 he, his wife and their two children headed off to St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary in Westchester, NY. Fr. James was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on Theophany 2003, welcomed their third child in April and graduated that May with a Masters in Divinity. After 2 years as the assistant pastor at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Houston, Fr. James was assigned as Pastor in 2005 of Saint Ignatius of Antioch Orthodox Christian Mission in Mesa, AZ. Along with pastoring Saint Ignatius, Fr. James serves as the Teen SOYO Spiritual Advisor for the Diocese of Los Angeles and was until recently the North American Chaplain for the Orthodox Christian Fellowship.

The Sweet Lord Jesus, his sweet wife Karen, sweet kids, unsweetened tea and coffee, hiking, biking, chess, reading, writing, teaching, preaching, skateboarding, surfing (badly) and cup cakes make life sweet.

©2010, Fr. James Coles


18 responses to “About the Author

  1. Greetings Brother!

    I love the site and visit it often. Makes me miss home (hopefully I can return in Aug/Sep)! I pray for you and all those at the Mission. Please take care….

  2. Christopher Renberg

    These are quite profound my old friend. God has certainly done many wondrous things in and through you. Hope you and yours are doing well. Peace….

  3. I’m theoldfellow on twitter. I love your blog posts. I am moving toward Orthodoxy from Anglicanism (although I’m a lapsed Roman Catholic from way back)
    I guess you’d call me a disciple of Fr John Musther, here in Keswick, England (www.orthodoxcumbria.org).
    I couldn’t see the point in twitter until I found the orthodox community. Many thanks.

  4. Gabriel Kaim

    Father James!

    I saw your links to your blog through facebook, now I’m reading just about every new post. It’s amazing stuff!

    Hope you’re doing well and God bless.

  5. William R. Work, MD

    Father bless!
    I found you on FB and just started reading your posts here. Thank you for your insights. I attend the Serbian church here in Fresno but am a convert so I have been in most of the archdioceses and have many fond memories of the Antiochian missions and churches. Perhaps you knew my late brother, Dn Marc Work, from St. Timothy in Lompoc, CA? Saw him recently in church in Fresno serving the liturgy with my priest.
    Glory to God!

  6. Thanks for the follow on Twitter – it has led me to your wonderful blog; I look forward to reading it regularly.

    Like Richard Downing I too am making the journey to Orthodoxy from an Anglicanism which has turned its back on me and on all traditional orthodox Anglicans – we are surplus to requirements. Unlike Richard I have not been R.C. though I have explored the Roman Church and found it both wanting and overly demanding. Walking into my local Orthodox Church (Antiochan Orthodox) was like finding the home I never knew I had.

  7. John Erickson

    Hi, Fr Jim!

    As you may have heard, Helen and I have now retired to Tucson, so I hope to see you at some point. Meanwhile I look forward to reading your blog.

    Fr John

  8. John Erickson

    In my last reply, I forgot to say: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  9. Mă bucur să vă întâlnesc Părinte James Coles!

    Sunt Pr. Dr. Dorin Octavian Picioruș și vă invit să ne cunoașteți mai bine pe ”Teologie pentru azi” (http://bastrix.wordpress.com/)

  10. Pingback: O nouă surpriză ortodoxă americană: Pr. James Coles « Teologie pentru azi

  11. tinag46

    Fr. James – I love your blog and hope you don’t mind me putting a link on my own. Your posts are so readable and spiritually fulfilling, I’d love to pass them on. I knew a Birkenstock-wearing Texan would be worth reading! Your profile really threw me at first when I misread “biking” for “birding”. Being an obsessive birder, I finally thought I’d found a birdwatching Orthodox priest – the ultimate in coolness. Hiking definitely counts too though.

    Yours in Christ,

    Tina Gilson
    St. Anthony the Great OCA
    San Antonio, Texas

  12. Mrs. Maarit Harkonen

    Fr. James,
    it was just so great to find your BLOG while looking for Kallistos Ware´s books !

    After a week we´ll be rejoycing:
    Crist is risen !

    Within His love,
    from Finland,

    Maarit Härkönen

  13. Bubba Johnson

    I was studying the book of Mark today and did a google search on the fourth watch as referenced when Jesus walked on the water and calmed the waters for his disciples. Your analysis of what happened concerning the fourth watch event hit me right between the eyes! That is exactly what happened to me, I strayed away from the presence of the Lord, was struggling with day to day happiness and when I was at my lowest and hit my knees, the Lord in his Grace and Mercy, reached down and pulled me out of my desperate situation. It is great to be home! I thank our Lord Jesus Christ for granting me another chance and for providing you with the wisdom to write this blog. Thank you so much.


  14. Eleni

    Hello Father,

    Christ is among us! My name is Eleni and I was wondering if you’d humor a weird question from me: Do you know of an appropriate patron saint for skateboarding? Here’s the back story:

    My parish (All Saints of North America in Hamilton, Ontario – asna.ca) recently moved into a new building and completed a long ramp at the entrance for wheelchair access. Naturally, some of the neighborhood kids and teens have started skateboarding on the ramp. They have been very cooperative in stopping when our priest lets them know that services are happening, and haven’t damaged any property that we’re aware of. We will probably post a “No Skateboarding” sign (with no expectation that it will work — more for liability purposes). However, one of our parishioners noted that this could also be used as an opportunity to catch the eye of the skateboarders and any other people walking by with an icon in the front window or one of the sayings of the desert Fathers spelled out in tiles in the walkway, or something else. This led to a semi-serious discussion about whether there’s a patron saint of skateboarders…

    So on a lark I entered “patron saint of skateboarders” into Google, and your blog came up! (The post in question is from last year in January, if you’re wondering.) Since I wasn’t expecting anything Orthodox in the results, I took it as a sign. 🙂 Anyway, if you have any thoughts on this, please do let me know! My parish and I would greatly appreciate it. Many thanks!

    • Fr. James Coles

      Dear Eleni,
      Christ is in our midst! Thank you for writing. There is not an official patron saint for skateboarding. But I did a little reading just now and have some thoughts. My sons and I have surfer necklaces with “St. Christopher protect us” on one side and a surfer on the other. St. Christopher is the patron for surfers and travelers and this works nicely for skateboarders.

      The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Christopher of Lycea with a Feast Day on May 9. The liturgical reading and hymns refer to his imprisonment by Decius who tempts Christopher with harlots before ordering his beheading.

      The Kontakion in the Fourth Tone (hymn) reads:
      Thou who wast terrifying both in strength and in countenance, for thy Creator’s sake thou didst surrender thyself willingly to them that sought thee; for thou didst persuade both them and the women that sought to arouse in thee the fire of lust, and they followed thee in the path of martyrdom. And in torments thou didst prove to be courageous. Wherefore, we have gained thee as our great protector, O great Christopher.

      I love that your parish would see the local skateboarders as an opportunity instead of a nuisance. My parish council vice chair mentioned my skateboarding at our annual meeting for why the parish needs to fund my health insurance! Funny!

      Bless you and your parish.
      Fr. James

  15. Bruce Collins

    Just a question.
    Is it possible to buy a copy of the Jesus and friend icon.

  16. I am so glad I found your webpage. A quick question if you don’t mind. I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your site. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it easy to follow for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Superb work!…

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