Friday, February 10, 2006

My Ecclesiastically Checkered Background

I come from an ecclesiastically checkered background. I will give a brief summary here, so that readers can have some idea of where I am coming from, but this post will only contain the “where” and not the “why”, which I will save for further posts. My father and eight of his brothers are/were ministers in various conservative evangelical Christian denominations (my father was nearly 50 when I was born, so a number of my uncles have passed on to their eternal reward). My father started out Free-Will Baptist (licensed but not ordained), was for a short while a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, and spent most of his career as a Southern Baptist minister except for a few very unfortunate years in the early and mid 1970’s when he pastured a couple of Assemblies of God. Here are the denominational affiliations of my uncles (multiple listings indicates the successive denominations in which they are/were clergy):

Luther – Nazarene
Rupert – Nazarene, then United Methodist
Wilbur – Cumberland Presbyterian
Vernon – Southern Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian, Presbyterian Church US, United Presbyterian Church –USA (these merged late in his life to form the Presbyterian Church USA)
Marvin – Cumberland Presbyterian
Robert – Cumberland Presbyterian
George -- Nazarene
Ellis – Free-Will Baptist, Cumberland Presbyterian

I was baptized at the age of 5 by my father in a Southern Baptist church, very early for a Baptist (and young enough to be considered an “infant baptism” by the Roman Catholics, which is hilarious given the strong opposition to infant baptism by Baptists). We were members of the Assemblies of God from the time I was 7 until I was 10, when we returned to the Southern Baptist fold. Remarkably, the summer I was 10, I was elected as a messenger (as Southern Baptists call their delegates) to the Southern Baptist Convention from our church (my parents were the other two messengers). A couple of years later, my father left the Southern Baptists again, for non-denominational charismatic churches, and was unemployed for 5 years. We would go to one church for a few months, until my father invented a reason why the pastor was scripturally unsound, and then another. For some reason, we wound up going to a United Methodist church, and I joined when I was 15. A year later, in 1983, I served as a youth lay delegate to the Holston Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.

In my senior year of high school, I started attending the Episcopal Church, and was confirmed as a freshman in college. While in college, I majored in Judaic studies, with a minor in Hebrew. I went to Harvard Divinity School, and while there, was received into the Roman Catholic Church. After working a few years, I entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement at Graymoor. After a year and a half, I realized that I could not become a Roman Catholic priest in good conscience, and I left both the Friars and the Roman church to return to the Episcopal Church. Shortly thereafter, I met John Plummer, who gave me my first in-depth introduction to the Independent Catholic movement, which I ultimately embraced, being ordained and ultimately consecrated a bishop, while at the same time continuing to attend my local Episcopal parish. About a year ago, I moved to Philadelphia, where I met two wonderful newly-ordained Independent priests, and became involved in their newly-formed parish, and it has been a joy to collaborate with them in ministry.

1 comment:

Chris T. said...

I'm looking forward to your "why" post. Especially curious what led you to HDS.