My name is Rev. Steven R. Giddens and I have the privilege of serving Plymouth Congregational UCC currently. I am historically connected to North Dakota by my maternal grandmother from Sarles, ND but was born and raised in Florida. After high school I joined the U.S. Army and did 6 years active service and completed another 6 years in the National Guards of Florida and Vermont. In my 12-years of service I was deployed 3 times; Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait; as an Infantryman. In 2013 I decided it was best to focus on my education and earned a BA from Sterling College in Vermont in 2014. During my senior year I completed a research internship in Puyallup, WA with Heartbeat Serving Wounded Warriors in their SCUBA Warrior program. I observed that groups of Veterans with faith; regardless of denomination or affiliation; in my words, were doing better transitioning than those without this network of community and support. It was on this question that I enrolled in a Dual-Masters program in 2015 at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. I earned my M.Div. in 2018 and was ordained in the United Church of Christ that Trinity Sunday at my home Church, St. Stephen’s UCC where I had been serving as Pastor since 2016. I completed my MA in Mental Health Counseling in 2019 and was accepted in the Ph.D. program at NDSU that same year. My family and I have a home in N. Fargo and our house is currently bustling with my wife Amanda and I, Grandpa Ed (Amanda’s maternal grandfather), our daughters Emily, aged 3 years, and Kaede, aged 6 months. We also have a yellow Labrador named Huckleberry and a black and white kitten named Mr. Whiskers. Amanda earned her BS in Human Resources Management from Colorado State University Global Campus in 2018 and has been balancing her education with the loving care and support of our family. Grandpa is a retired Vietnam Era Veteran with over 20-years in Engineering who spends most of his time tinkering, collecting patches, and playing with the girls. Emily is really into Princesses now but comes from a Paw Patrol background. Kaede just learned to crawl and is transitioning to solid foods. My family and I are excited to be a part of this great community and are looking forward to growing here. We have been loved and welcomed at Plymouth and look forward to sharing and spreading that sense of joy and openness to all who will accept it and we look forward to getting to know you all more in the coming months and years. Thank you for your faithfulness and the trust you have shown your Search Committee and your Council. In Love and Peace – Pastor Steve and Family.