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