This past weekend was filled with the sorts of moments that leave a life-long mark on one’s soul. My ordination as a priest into the Communion of Evangelical Episcopal Churches and the Order of St. Anthony was the culmination of more that 15 years of journeying deeper into the life of God and his Church. I felt a unique and deep sensitivity to that mysterious “cloud of witnesses” as I was welcomed into apostolic succession…the faces of Bishop Veron Ashe, Reverend Paul Mathiesen, and Jack O’Rourke came to mind. My ordination on Saturday was followed-up with an “installation” as an “ambassador priest” here at Salem Tabernacle, and it was in that Sunday night service that my Bishop, Ed Gungor, placed a collar on my neck. The value of that collar as a sign and symbol to me and our church was explained. My calling to expose people to the riches of the broader, historic Church and to work for the unity of that very Church (John 17) was also made quite clear.
I understand that these events in particular, and this journey in general, is bound to raise meaningful questions, and I’d like to engage some of them in this format (despite its limitations). Over the course of this year, I’ve come to embrace the value of questions as opportunities to not only come to a better understanding of truth, but to grow closer to the people asking those questions. So…here’s one question that has come up: “What do I tell my (Pentecostal, evangelical, “low-church”) family members when they hear about your ordination or come to a service and see you wearing a collar?”
I want to provide a “lowest common denominator” sort of answer to this, all the while acknowledging that it is more complex than what I’m about to say. Continue reading