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Still, a Child of God

This is the eighth in a series on My Faith Journey.

(If you would rather listen, click on the arrow below.)

Some of you are aware that Mary and I joined the Episcopal Church a few years ago.  When people join different churches from their birth families, there is usually a story connected to it.

Mary grew up in a Catholic family and I grew up Baptist.  When we married in 2004, both of us wanted to find a place where we could worship together and follow God’s calling in our lives.

We discovered over time that the Episcopal Church was a good middle ground for us.

The liturgical church wasn’t an easy transition for this Baptist initially.  Learning when to kneel or stand felt like religious gymnastics and distracted me from worship.  I fumbled between the Bible, Book of Common Prayer, and a couple of hymnals during worship.  I left church mad most Sundays because I couldn’t keep up.

Finally one Sunday, I let go and put all of the books down, and closed my eyes, and listened.

That’s when I heard the beautiful, inclusive, formed prayers that became my own.  That’s when I realized how much scripture was actually being read every week in worship.  That’s when I discovered how meaningful communion could be.   And that’s when I knew, the Episcopal church was my new spiritual home.

My faith journey has taught me over the years that God is not restricted to one tribe.

I experienced this lesson of God working through other tribes in a Presbyterian church when they hired me to be their youth director one summer when I was in college.

This truth was confirmed for me when I was a pastoral minister at a Baptist church in Louisville, KY because they were an active part of a community ministry where congregations of all types worked together.   Imagine that.

I was amazed when I moved to Connecticut that a local UCC Congregational church would hire me to be their pastoral minister.  They said, “We have something called ‘dual standing’ so that you can work with us while you keep your other faith connections.”

Some friends have asked me if I am mad at the Baptist church.  How could I be?

The Baptists are the people who introduced me to a God of grace, love, and forgiveness. They are the same Baptists who affirmed my call to ministry by placing their hands on my head to ordain me.  They are the same Baptists who underwrote for my two seminary degrees.  And finally, they are the same Baptists my father and grandfather served as pastors for 50 years each.

Today, I am just grateful.

I am grateful for my wife who is in her first of three years in an Episcopal seminary in Virginia as she moves toward becoming an Episcopal priest.  This is exactly where she needs to be.

I am grateful to be a Director of Pastoral Care in a hospital and going through the process to become ordained in the Episcopal Church.  This is exactly where I need to be.

Thanks to all of you, and my wife, for loving me as I travel this journey of faith.

All I really know is I am a child of God who is trying to find his way.

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How have you been surprised in your faith journey?  Please share in the comments below.

 

 

7 Responses to “Still, a Child of God”

  1. Sherri Shepherd says:

    Interesting to me how so many children of Baptist preachers defect. Some have said that the pressure on children can be enormous. Especially in smaller towns. That the congregations can have unreasonable expectations of the preacher’s family. When my Dad was a candidate to be Associational Missionary in Somerset, KY., in 1961, the Executive Board summonsed our entire family so they could “have a look at us”. To this day, I wonder about the relevance….maybe one day I will query Eldred Taylor, who was the Chairman of the EB. Well, anyway, I guess none of us had too many obvious unpleasant defects as my Dad served in that position for some 18 years or so. My parents handled the task of raising children while in the public eye beautifully. I was incorporated into many of Dad’s activities….he took me/us everywhere…great summer vacations with the destination of the SBC, GLorietta, etc..VBSs where I played to piano, M night services, reunions with dinner-on-the-grounds. Dad knew everyone: Alton McEachern and my Dad were classmates at Southern Seminary and wouldn’t you know he was camp pastor one summmer during GA camp at Cedarmore….he picked me out and counseled me to attend SMBC when I came to Louisville to attend Nursing School. By the time I arrived at SMBC, he had moved, but don’t you know…there were Wayne Oates, Eldred Tayor, Walter Jackson (officiated at my wedding) and several others whom I had meet during my adventures as the daughter of a DOM. One of the tremedous consequences of the “associations” in the Baptist denomination is the great sense of community across generations. I really appreciate that!

  2. Malcolm says:

    Hi Sherri, thank you so much for your comment above. You certainly had key people in your life who have made a difference in your life. I have known all of the ones you mentioned personally and I can say Amen to the love and grace they have all shown to many of us.

    I don’t personally see my joining the Episcopal Church as defecting from the Baptists as much as moving towards where I believe I am being called now. However, I also understand that is simply my viewpoint. I absolutely loved being a preacher’s kid and have greatly benefited from the love of people in every church my dad pastored.

    Peace be with you, thanks again for sharing.
    Malcolm

  3. Jerry Jacob says:

    Malcolm,

    This is something else we have in common. I, too, came from mostly a Baptist background. Maundy Thursday was a very strange introduction to Episcopal services. But something drew us back, and we never felt out-of-place again. That something was what you have described above. God has blessed you and Mary, Marcia and me in very much the same way. God bless all you do for Him.

  4. Margaret Hinson says:

    Yea! Malcolm, Would you believe that Jimmy and I had often wondered if you would consider serving as an Episcopal priest. We had our hopes, but knew you were busy at UAB. This day’s “Faith Journey” was an aha moment. Great! Good! Wonderful! God is calling you both into Episcopal ministry. What a terrific blessing for all of us.
    Love, Margaret

  5. Malcolm says:

    Thank you Jerry and Margaret for your comments above.

    Margaret, I plan to be an Episcopal priest in the position I am now in as Director of Pastoral Care. I love my work and am called to do what I am doing. However, none of us knows what the future holds and I certainly want to say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”

    Peace to you both,
    Malcolm

  6. Wes Ellis says:

    I read your column with great interest. I, too, am a “convert” to the Episcopal Church, the son, grandson, great-grandson of Methodist ministers. The liturgy drew me to the church. I’m an organist (85 years old and still playing!) and the first Sunday I played for the Episcopal Church, I knew I was home. Incidentally, my son was married in, and my two grandsons were baptized at St. Luke’s Birmingham by John Claypool and I’m sure you know his background! One of the great pastors/preachers that we inherited from the Southern Baptist. I would also recommend, especially for your wife, the book, Dilemma, the story of The Rev. Cutie, former Roman Catholic priest and now Episcopal priest. God be with you and Mary on your journey.

  7. Malcolm says:

    Wes, thanks so much for your wonderful comments! Wow, 85 and still an organist! Now you are my inspiration.

    And yes, I knew (of) John Claypool when he was a Baptist in Louisville in my seminary days. We all wanted to be like him. Thanks for the book recommendation.

    Peace to you, and I appreciate you taking the time to write a comment on my blog.
    Malcolm

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