The Reverend Philip Bjornberg is the relatively new pastor of Trinity Church, Portland; he was called in September, 2016 to serve as a missional transitional deacon-in-charge and was then ordained to the priesthood here on December 21, 2016, when he was 60.
Phil is a "cradle Episcopalian" with a charismatic ministry shaped by a number of profound mystical spiritual experiences. The first of three significant transformational events occurred on November 15th, 2003 when Phil entered the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in the basement of an Episcopal church. He says that is where he became part of a radically unorthodox gospel community that loved him unreservedly just when he felt most un-loveable. The second mystery was during a heart attack in 2006; while confronting his mortality in the supernatural peace of God’s assurance - "I will not leave you comfortless, I will come to you" - Phil heard "all life is lived in the present, I AM with you always, life is a gift to be cherished, not a problem to be solved." But his most dramatic theophany came in 2009 at an Episcopal healing service. Phil was about to receive communion, he remembers, "I felt absolute terror rise from the depths of my soul when the Lord invited me to truly abandon myself into a cloud of unknowing by asking me, 'Why don't you choose to believe?' The question of why anyone would withhold anything from God finished forming in my mind and immediately, the veil between heaven and earth was lifted and I found myself caught up to the third heaven. 'Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows' (2 Cor. 12:2)." Looking back on my experiences, I realize we humans are not so much afraid of dying as we are of never having really been.
That series of revelations sent him to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. "I commuted almost three thousand miles between Connecticut and California for four years, renting an apartment on campus to attend most of my seminary classes in Pasadena and completing as many courses as possible online from home. "I discerned a call to holy orders and was accepted as a postulant for ordination to the priesthood in the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut while still in seminary in California. My graduation at Fuller in Pasadena in June 2014 - walking alongside over five hundred students from almost fifty countries - was for me an experience of the global incarnation of God's kingdom here on earth today."
Father Phil's route to the priesthood was not direct; after an award winning career with a major aerospace company from 1979-2001, he created an owner-operated custom hardwood flooring installation and finishing company, Class A Floors, LLC. Phil served as Chaplain for active duty military personnel and veterans with post-traumatic stress (PTSD) and substance use disorders (SUD) at Stonington Institute from 2014-2016 and as recently as 2018, Rev. Phil bought a home on Main Street in Portland and became a founding director of Follow Me Home, Inc. Follow Me Home is a non-profit corporation which promotes design thinking for social entrepreneurship in the development of intentional residential recovery community currently comprised of five non-blood-related men.
"In my Father's house there are many dwelling places...."