And so it continues...

Posted November 3, 2015 @ 1:00pm | by Tripp

As you might imagine, I have quite a few prayer books at home. It's an occupational hazard. I have prayer books from the last century or more. Some are Christian. Some are Jewish. I even have this neat old translation of some Sumerian liturgies that I picked up from the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago. It's all so damn beautiful.

One of the most treasured is the one that my maternal grandmother gave me when I was an infant after I was baptized at St. James the Less Episcopal Church in Ashland, VA in 1970. I love that prayer book.

That's right. I was baptized as an infant. No, I was never rebaptized even after I joined North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago, IL.

As most folk know, I have tread the line between the traditions. As an adult, I've always done so. There are countless reasons. Some are personal. Some I have made quite public over the years. I have sung in Episcopal parishes as part of the music ministry there. Church of the Holy Comforter in Richmond, VA is still my home church in many ways because of my time there. They nurtured me and cared for me. They asked me to serve.

For whatever reason, I was never confirmed.

While I was there, I lived and worked at Richmond Hill daily praying morning, noon, and evening prayers from the Book of Common Prayer. I was there for four years. That kind of thing leaves a mark.

It wasn't until I moved to Chicago that I found a way to explore my Baptistness. My step-mother's dad was a Baptist preacher. I spent some time as part of the Baptist Student Union in college and even attended Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond for a semester. North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago nurtured me into ministry. That place has also left a mark.

So too did Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. I was formed alongside my classmates. Daily prayer and Eucharist as well as the blessed via media of the Episcopal Church kept me focused in an interesting way. I had to step into my Baptist identity all while being formed in an Episcopal identity. Tensions emerged. But it was all good.

As a pastor, I've served ecumenical congregations in and around Chicago. Ecumenism has been a cornerstone to my understanding of being Christian. It has been my work through the years. All the while I have been trying to stand in two places at the same time.

Over time, however, something has changed.

I don't know if it's the repeated celebration of the Great Vigil. I don't know if it's the love I have for liturgy (all liturgy, even the Baptist). I cannot underestimate the symbolic power of those old baptismal gowns my mother has kept all these years (my father's and mine). Then there's the prayer book.

Our Prayers and Praise.

This is a strange thing to share, especially on a blog. Confirmation is one of the most personally transformative things I have done. It is public and deeply private. After attending and studying All Souls Episcopal Parish in Berkeley, CA, for these past couple of years, I have decided to be confirmed in the Episcopal Church.

A friend said, "Why not? All the cool kids are doing it."


My confirmation is set for November 7, the eleventh anniversary of my ordination to the Baptist ministry. 

I'm not seeking some kind of "cool." The ABC is plenty cool if you are a free church progressive. Diverse. Affirming. You really need to check out the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists. There's some incredible theological heavy lifting happening in Baptist pulpits and classrooms. I am in no way disillusioned or disappointed by these Baptists. And I'm looking forward to bringing all of it with me.

It's simply a family thing. It's my son who will be baptized at the Great Vigil. It's my spouse who has wondered time and again why it has taken me so long. It's my grandmother and that prayer book. It's my mother and those baptismal gowns. It's those places back in Virginia, the old parishes that still have a hold on me, it's the rites and rhythms of the past, present, and future. It's those tendrils in the deep earth.

The Baptist tradition gifted me with much, but now I'm entering a season when I need to embrace more fully the Episcopal roots I have been given over the years by baptism, by hopeful intention, by my music, and by the work of prayer.

Another friend offered that I will "bring Baptist gifts" but I have "an ecumenically Anglican spirit." Perhaps. I hope to be such. 

So it continues...I will always carry those glorious Baptist distinctives. There is no doubt. Shurden's Four Fragile Freedoms will sit next to the Book of Common Prayer. It always has. I was given family among the Baptists. One friend reminded me that the Baptists never really let you go. Indeed. Know that I love you and I'm not leaving. I'm just stepping over here and looking at this anglobaptist thing from another angle.

God help me, but there it is. Keep me in your prayers.

Blog Home
Filed Under: mandodoxy |   | Permalink
Comments powered by Disqus
XML Sitemap