Wayne Penn Jr.
Although I was originally born in Clarksville, TN, I wouldn’t necessarily claim that I’m from there. Due to my father’s military career, I’ve lived in numerous other places, ranging from Belgium and Germany to Hawaii. When people ask me where I’m from, I often says that it’s “complicated”, but my father’s military career and pastoral ministry eventually settled our family here in Columbia, SC in 2000.
I finished high school here and graduated from the University of South Carolina as well. My lovely wife Felicia (affectionately known as Fee) and I met in 2003, and were married February of 2008. We have two lovely daughters, Kori and Kami.
I grew up in the church as a PK (preacher’s kid), but I’d be the first to tell you that proximity to the church doesn’t guarantee proximity to Jesus. Though I was converted as a child at age 12, my relationship with Jesus didn’t really begin to flourish until early adulthood, and to this day, I readily admit that it’s still a work in progress. But God’s grace is evident in my life to those around me.
I am an avid reader, writer, and minister of the gospel, and believe that Jesus is central to every aspect of life – the individual, family, society, government, philosophy, the arts – and everything in between. My ministerial passions include preaching/teaching the Word, discipleship, building community, and bridging the gap between younger and older generations. I’m committed to challenging preconceived notions about what it means to follow Jesus and seeks to engage the culture instead of running from it.
Those who know me well enjoy my introverted, yet engaging, personality, and I’m also known for my love of roller skating and hot chocolate. I hopes to leave a legacy of love and a passion for Christ to my children and my children’s children.
In college at CIU, I fell in love with God’s amazing story of redemption mapped out in scripture and was inspired by testimonies of His continual transformation of lives through His Church at home and abroad.
While at Riverside, I’ve experienced rich and faithful community as I began my journey out of college and into marriage, professional life, parenting, loss, unanswered questions, waiting, and joy. Over the last 10 years of being in this community, I’ve learned to love God for who he is and not only what he gives, and that a Christian’s journey is not meant to be alone. I’ve had the honor of living life-on-life with many other men and families at Riverside, sharpening each other by God’s grace to be humble tools ready to be used at our Maker’s will.
My faith journey has shown me there is an unfathomable richness and beauty to eagerly rest in God, and my desire is to point others toward that richness.
My wife, Kate, and I have attended Riverside Community Church since 2011. We came to Columbia after I finished an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California. After teaching philosophy, ethics, and logic courses during my studies at UofSC, followed by five years as a technical writer, I now work as a product manager at a software company.
I put my faith in Jesus during a VBS in Lafayette, Indiana in 1994. Shortly afterward, my family moved overseas where our church experiences ranged widely over eight years. I took greater ownership of my faith in these teenage years, reading everything I could find on theology and apologetics, and seeking ways to grow in my obedience to Jesus.
My understanding of the gospel is that we all deserve God’s wrath, but that God freely offers forgiveness to anyone who trusts in Jesus, who lived a sinless life, died in our place, was resurrected, and will return again. The only way to be right with God is through Jesus. Those who turn to Jesus are adopted into God’s family and made right with the God who created us, loves us, and now calls us to follow him in the power of his Holy Spirit.
In terms of involvement at Riverside, I have focused on worship and teaching roles. I helped with visuals on Sunday mornings for many years, including serving as Deacon of Worship from 2018-2020; have taught most years during men’s Summer Bible studies; have led a small group for seven years (currently the North Trenholm group); and I help teach our Crossroads students.
Kate and I have been married since 2009 and we are the proud parents of three children.