Happy Founder’s Day to my Brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity! A Blessed Feast of St. John of Damascus! And DID YOU SEE LUIS SUAREZ DESTROY NORWICH TODAY?!
Yeah, there are questions about why I am making such a dramatic change from being a Baptist pastor to being an Orthodox Christian without any title. I have to admit, it will be weird not being called “pastor” and “reverend.” One of my favorite professors in seminary, Dr. Charles Jones (Memory Eternal) used to remind us that, “Your momma and daddy did not name you ‘reverend.'” I never did like being called that outside of church too much anyway. Inside of church, hey, that is the position I hold. I have heard a lot of people declare, “I don’t need a title to serve the Lord.” I guess I will be putting that claim to use.
In making my decision, I am glad that I chronicled my journey into Orthodoxy so that no one can say this is some knee-jerk reaction to me not getting the money, perks, or something else I wanted. In fact, anyone who reads my post from June of 2012 up to today will see this was a long and well trodden path I have taken to this point. I remember meeting with Fr. James Purdie that August (at the NY Deli, the best eatery in the Williamsburg Area and owned by Greek Orthodox Christians). He told me, “We don’t rush people to convert. Take your time. We are always going to be here.” Oh, I had moments where Orthodoxy felt so right that I would have jumped ship had I had the same income I did when I worked at Dominion and not a pastor. But, being a highly regarded pastor who relied on that church salary to pay the mortgage, staying where I was for as long as I did made more sense. Plus, it gave me plenty of time to make sure that I wanted to convert and not based on positive or negative emotions.
I benefited from the wisdom from three wise advisers. They didn’t interject or object to the course I was taking. Initially, I found their silence somewhat frustrating. Apparently, they were watching me think, ponder, pray, and post my views. They wanted me to develop into the genuine Christian God was calling me to be. Had I tried to move too soon or not at all and not been genuine, these men would have put me back on a fraternity pledge line (they are all Alpha Men). I thank God they had and have my back.
So, I can give a word of advice to those who want to convert to Orthodoxy. Take your time. Make sure your steps are firm and that you are willing to commit to the faith. The Orthodox Church is not a club for saints to get their praise on once or twice a week. This is a hospital for sinners where we meet God with all of our senses and are expected to maintain the medicines of prayer, fasting, alms-giving, the scriptures, and living as new creatures in Christ. Talk with the open minded and knowledgeable friends who truly care about your spiritual journey. Carefully chronicle and think about your growth as you read about and participate in the faith. When the time truly comes to convert, you will be able to look at your journey and see that the time is right.
The bird knows when it is time to display it’s feathers.