Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lutheran and beyond

After Rachel and I joined the Lutheran church, we eventually felt a weight lifted off of us from having been at our previous church. The traditional liturgy freed us from the never-ending circle of getting excited and feeling like we worshiped God on any given Sunday. We could just go to church and fall in line with everyone else and worship. The sense of needing to have some type of emotional response to worship was gone! I feel like people don't understand what this is like because many have never realized how much their worship is really centered on how they respond to the "uplifting" music and how worship leaders work and work the crowd to get them to have this response. Of course, many have never had the experience that Rachel and I had while at our previous church.

We actually chose to join the Lutheran church while we were there. This was a huge step for me because I had never been an actual member in a church before, even though I had been involved in a number of them and been very active. It had never crossed my mind to really join! What a sad state I had been in. It was a joyful experience to commit to a congregation in a way that I had never done before.

And during this time, I finally finished my bachelor's degree and left undergraduate work behind at last. Another joyful experience that I remember from the year 2006.

However, my desire to seek ordination, which I had felt for a number of years got the better of me. Unfortunately, I couldn't just go to a Lutheran seminary immediately. They had a good process for determining who could go and who couldn't. The first part of it was to be a member in good standing for at least a year. The second part was for the church to form a committee and interview you and prepare you to be called to seminary. This would also take a year. So, for me to attend a Lutheran seminary, I would need to wait nearly two years to begin. Well, I couldn't wait. I chose to apply for Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte and see what would happen. This application went out in early November, 2006.

By the end of November, I had been accepted! And two weeks after that, Rachel and I went to look for an apartment we could afford near the seminary. We found one during the two days we were in Charlotte. The Lord had provided the two things we had asked for in regard to confirming my coming to seminary and our leaving Johnson City. So, on January 15th we loaded our moving truck and made the 3 and a half hour drive to Charlotte to begin the next stage in our journey.

We attempted to find a Lutheran church here after we moved, but after attending a couple of them for a while, found that they didn't line up with what we needed and were expecting. So after months more of looking, we settled into a Presbyterian church for a while so that we could work out where I would eventually seek ordination.

At this time, the Lutheran church we were members in was the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. This was the mainline group and thus, like many other mainline denominations, was struggling with the issue of homosexuality. I didn't want to leave the group, but I also didn't want to have to fight that battle in the future, so I waited to see what would happen or at least to see where it looked like they would go with their various votes at the assemblies over the next few years. Eventually, I saw that they ELCA would continue forward with the desire to ordain active homosexuals and drop their stance of abstinence and celibacy for unmarried clergy. This deeply saddened me, but it forced me to really test my commitment to Lutheran theology.

I studied and read up quite a bit and came to agree on numerous points, however, my options were to join either the Missouri Synod Lutherans or the Wisconsin Synod Lutherans. Neither was very appealing to me because I felt that both, at least on paper, were very insulated and mistrusting of anyone not of their groups. This was just something that I could not deal with.

So in late fall of 2008, I began looking into Anglicanism and trying to grasp where it was theologically. The more that I looked, the more that I liked. They had the liturgy that I had so grown to love, but they also had a theological perspective that I could function in. They were also taking a stand against the ordination of active homosexuals by withdrawing from the mainline Episcopalians and realigning with the Global South.

And so, Rachel and I found ourselves during the Spring of 2009, with our first child on the way deciding that the new Anglican movement was where the Lord was leading us for our future ministry. We simply had to finish my commitments at the Presbyterian church, and begin visiting the Anglican parishes here in Charlotte and figure out which one we would settle into for the long haul.

This completes my narrative toward Anglicanism, at least some of the highlights of it. So, over the next few weeks (the rest of Lent, to be exact), I will blog about the things that attracted me to Anglicanism and hopefully make some sense of the various contours of my life...

Peace and blessings!

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