If you had asked me fifteen years ago if I was going to be a minster I would have laughed. I was in no way the kind of guy that became a minister, let alone a fellow that loved or worshipped God. I was not the worst kid either.
With years of insight that breed wisdom processed by therapy I can see now the seeds being planted in my youth for the call on my life these days.
I was baptized a Presbyterian on November 02, 1975 and dabbled in the church as much as an infant could. My folks divorced in 1981 and I split the Presbyterian Church soon after. I did not find my way back until the spring of 2002.
After a long journey filled with questions about questions framed in heartache and sorrow I arrived at the doors of First Presbyterian Church, Granada Hills. I arrived with a suitcase full of hurt and mistrust. I wanted to call bullshite on any and all that would dare talk to me.
I was soon brought in to the fold and became very active in the community. I was loved when I could not love myself. The healing process began there for me. This is when I was able to really hear my call. I first thought God was full of shite. Why would I be called to ministry? I am a cast off, heathen not fit for consumption by the dredges of society. God said, “Yes you are.” You are also one of my beloved and I love you. I also have a purpose for you.”
I became a young adult volunteer [YAV] and went to Kenya to serve with Church World Service. In Africa my faith grew. I was destroyed and mourned many nights for yesterday. I mourned for those days when I understood. The days that made sense and did not challenge the notions I held and the world I lived in was docile and bland.
God shaped my heart and the Presbyterian Church was there for me. She loved me and gave me a chance to be refined. God put us together. It was a match made in heaven.
I returned from Kenya to attend Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Again the church was there for me. I was refined some more by the likes of Cindy Rigby, David. F. White, Stan Hall, Michael Jinkins, Kristine Saldine, Arun Jones, and many others. I served Presbyterian churches as a pastoral intern in rural Oklahoma. I attended Presbyterian churches with my friends. I love the Presbyterian Church.
I became a member of Presbymergent so that the church I loved could have a voice in the postmodern conversation happening all around her. I sought ways to be church in a new way that speaks to the hurting places of the generations emerging from the ashes of debt, war, and technology of the post denominational/post colonial age.
I fought with folks when they said denominationalism and Presbyterianism is no longer a viable path to the divine. I spent countless hours reading and digesting information on the how and what of church today as I ought to couple the past of our rich reformed history as Presbyterians. I hungered to be part of the church.
I fought through the process and distance of being under care. I made connections and formed relationships in the denomination with many amazing people. I dreamed of being part of a transforming denomination that is an essential part of communities everywhere. I got excited by the idea of a church for people not wanting to be a part of yesterdays church…I see strength in the denomination as we are steeped in a rich reformed history and carry with us creeds [BOC] and order [BOO] that allow us to bend to the culture and not break.
Alas, I walk away. I have not taken this lightly. I mourn the loss of my membership. I am almost angry. It is here that those lyrics of old sting my soul. “Fantastic the panic that showed in his eyes, he shrugged when I asked him about it, he said “young man pay heed, you listen well to what I say, now there comes a time for a man to walk away.” It is surely my time to walk away.
I mourn the loss as I watch the parade leave the big tents of the Presbyterian Kingdom. I wish that the denomination could loosen its grip on the power of ordination. I am not for an abolition of all standards. I wonder what the church would look like if it opened the path to creative and called people regardless of their sexuality, politics, and aversions and looked at their call to be leaders in their communities. Leaders that charge forth to be witness of Gods glory in the coming Kin-dom. Witness to the beauty of relationships rooted in Jesus the Christ and less on the right way to seek truths of Christ.
“I’ll be determined that no one shall dissuade on my way, I’ll sure take some time to burn all the bridges that I’m leaving behind, he passed by again and he was shivering from the cold” I mourn and parts of me feel slighted and hurt as I depart. My initial feeling was to get even and take away the life I had invested in the church.
I hold no remorse for loving the church as I have. I still love her. I believe I always will. As I leave to the Disciples of Christ I leave with hope.
I hope that Christian everywhere will be in relationship together. In this I hope that Presbyterians everywhere will fight to be the church in dynamic ways that transcend traditional barriers. I leave with thanksgiving in my heart that I was formed in the belly of the beast called Presby. I am the better for it.