“The reason this church works, is because I have no culture,” he said. “I don’t prefer redneck over city; I don’t care.”
A self-proclaimed “military brat” and “third-culture kid” with roots at home and abroad, Marriott has served as pastor for Branchville Cumberland Presbyterian (“Branchville Church”) for more than eight years. He says the congregation’s willingness to ada
pt to the changing culture of St. Clair County is its greatest asset.
“We’re uncomfortable for church folks,” he said. “We’re very comfortable for people who understand, the only commonality for Christians is Jesus.
“In the same congregation, we’ve got executives at Citgo and Alabama Power; and the guy that leads prayer used to be Sergeant at Arms for the Hell’s Angels in Orange County. Executives and former Hell’s Angels. It’s not normal for a church; it’s fun.”
Marriott, who owns two bachelor’s degrees, two master’s degrees and has worked on two separate doctorate degrees, also has a number of passions as a minister. He is a part-time history professor at Jefferson State Community College, has authored two books and is working with E3partners and I AM SECOND in coordinating mission work in Madrid, Spain.
Much of his passion, however, is for children of “highly mobile” families, or “third-culture kids,” who have lived around the world.
“We do not think the same as people who grow up in the states, because we didn’t,” he said. “We also don’t fit in those countries we grew up in, because we grew up here, too. The third culture, we’re not our parents’ culture; we’re not the international culture, either; we’re our own separate culture.
“Common thing about TCKs is we’re a mixed-up mess of stuff that doesn’t really make sense to anybody. I think it works for a pastor, and in Christian ministry.”
It’s a trait he says he believes his congregation shares.
“It’s really entertaining to preach on Sunday,” he said. “This is one of the few places I’ve been where it actually seems like it’s not about who you are, but about who He is.
“A lot of the barriers to people coming to Christ are cultural. As someone who has no real cultural boundaries, a lot of those barriers are removed.”
Branchville Church currently has over 150 members, and is located on U.S. 411 near Blair Farms Road. Sunday School begins each Sunday at 10 a.m., with services beginning at 11 a.m.
“I try to explain it to people within the denomination, and they just look at me sometimes,” Marriott said. “We’ve got well-respected businessman, and at the same time, women who’ve had to quit working at Sammy’s.
“That’s neat to me. I don’t know if it’s newsworthy, but it’s neat.”
Contact Will Heath at email@example.com.