Two of Three Pilgrim Essays Updated

I have slightly revised two of my Pilgrim Essays, Starting from Cane Ridge and The Road to Canterbury. Nothing of substance has changed, but some slight revisions of language were necessary, as the entry into the Orthodox Church was only anticipated at the time of the last revision (summer 2004).

I’m working to bring my The Journey to Antioch up to date, hopefully within the next few days.


The Road to Canterbury V

[Note: This series of posts can be found here on this blog, or in a single html document here.]

The Aftermath

The aftermath of my decision was pretty much anticlimactic. Since arriving at the seminary, I had only been to a couple of Episcopal parishes in the area on a few occasions. Despite the prayerbook service I loved, the parishes were so anti-traditional, and so opposite what I’d come to Anglicanism for, that I just couldn’t force myself to go. Here I was, at seminary, seeking a vocation to the priesthood, and I couldn’t bring myself to even attend the churches I might one day be serving. So, since we’d arrived in Chicago in 2000, my wife and I had essentially not gone to church or had a parish home for those two years at seminary.
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The Road to Canterbury IV

The Fork in the Road

During all this growing struggle, a clergy friend of mine expressed that one way to approach these concerns is to remind myself that adulthood is rife with continual negotiation. There are no easy answers or infallibly clear alliances. Everyday we are faced with various compromises through which we negotiate our faith. So while this moral and theological fragmentation which is occurring in the Episcopal Church is regrettable, it is nonetheless part of the realities of adult life: we pick and choose our battles and our allies, hopefully and prayerfully with the guidance of and in obedience to the Holy Spirit. Conformity to an ideal might not be so much a sign of orthodoxy as it is a sign of immaturity.

But the actions of the Episcopal Churchs national leadership and other laity and clergy were deeply troubling to me nonetheless. Furthermore, it could be responded that a sign of adult maturity is to recognize ones limitations and obligations. This willful disregard for catholicity and tradition in which the Episcopal Church is engaged may not be so much a sign of relevance and sophistication as a sign of regression to adolescent rebellion and lack of a formed identity. An “adult” church would then be one which realized that one had an obligation to be faithful to the Tradition, and that limits are not always signs of oppression but signs of protection and of responsibility.
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The Road to Canterbury III

Troubling Intimations

I knew, coming into the Episcopal Church, that many priests were quite a bit more “liberal” than was I. Some of my then primary “diagnostic tests”–literal six-day creation, traditional authorship of biblical books, infallible inspiration of the biblical texts–revealed quite a bit of ambiguity on the part of many of the clergy, though not all, whom I encountered. But the words of the 1979 prayerbook were orthodox as far as I could tell, the creeds were said, and there were still many orthodox priests and laity in ECUSA. I simply assumed that both could exist together; that I would be free to live and practice my faith as Id always done. We could, in short, agree to disagree. But just a little more than one year after Id been confirmed, I began to see the warning signs that others, unbeknownst to me then, had pointed out for quite some time.
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The Road to Canterbury II

My First Worship in an Episcopal Church

When I first got to Lawrence, I looked up the two Restoration Movement churches in town, and settled on the Disciples Church. In late September, I began to think again about the Anglican tradition and decided to look up the local Episcopal Church. There were two listings and I chose Trinity, which, as it happened, was the church across the alley from the Disciples Church. On the feast of St Francis, 4 October, I worshiped for the first time in a prayerbook service. It was the early service, which in many Episcopal churches, as it was in this one, is the Rite I, or traditional language, service. As is also often the case, there was no hymn singing or other music. It was a spoken liturgy. When I entered the nave, all was silent and around me several parishioners were kneeling in prayer. The service began abruptly with the entry of the rector and immediately we were in the midst of the liturgy. I had read and attempted to use the Book of Common Prayer for a couple of years, and here was the living embodiment of it.
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The Road to Canterbury I

[Note: This is the second series (chronologically) of posts describing my spiritual pilgrimage from the Stone-Campbell Restoration Movement churches, through the Anglican churches, to the threshold of the Orthodox Church. The first series “Starting from Cane Ridge,” can be found here on this blog, or in a single html document here. The third series of posts, “The Journey to Antioch” can be found here on this blog, or in a single html document here.]

Looking for the Historic Church

From my final semester at Ozark till my confirmation in the Episcopal Church was a period of some six years of exploring and living, as best I could in my circumstances, what I was discovering about the Anglican tradition and the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA). But although, as will be told, my exploration took place within the Anglican tradition, what I was searching for was the historic Church, a connection to the New Testament Church that I had not found in my heritage churches.
Continue reading “The Road to Canterbury I”