1.11.2008

A Hard Question: Has anyone out there started the ordination process in one tradition and finished in another?

I feel like a traitor for even asking the question, and I'm positive that if discernment leads that way, it will include a stage of grieving. I don't quit when a relationship is hard, and I love to be part of growth and change. Ultimately, though, faithfulness to God is far more important than fidelity to one community of faith. I want to stay in this beautiful church that I love. I need to take God's call seriously, even when it isn't in the correct prepackaged box.

I met with my spiritual director on Wednesday, and then shuffled off to SD training yesterday, and over and over, I kept remembering the joy that comes with freedom of imagination. I kept contrasting it with this dreadful "discipline and obedience." There have been so many glorious times when God has popped up in unexpected places, completely surprising me with new plans. It seems like arrogance to believe that there is a simple, neatly proscribed timeline and job descriptions for all ministers of the church, regardless of their gifts.

This loss of imagination is making me feel old. I want to dream. I want to rejoice in the prophetic imagination that is so precious to me. I want to know if I can do that here. I want to be truly faithful.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be
changed,

Courage to change the things which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
Living
one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as
Jesus did,

This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would
have it,

Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be
reasonably happy in this life,

And supremely happy with You forever
in the next.
Amen.

by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

10 comments:

  1. We have one who switched from unitarian to episcopalian, two now-episcopalian priests who switched from methodism - i don't know of those who have gone out from episcopalianism in the ordination process to another process - only those who have left organized religion completely after entering the process in our diocese.

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  2. "...only those who have left organized religion completely after entering the process in our diocese." Oh, my God. But could you blame them?

    Weeping and gnashing of teeth...

    Mrs. M, if you'd like to get a broader set of answers to this question, please nominate it for the Weds Festival this week.

    (Mrs. M)

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  3. I know of people who've transitioned before or after, but the only one I know who switched while in process didn't have an easy time of it. (And, actually, didn't get past the parish stage of things after the switch.)

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  4. I did not, but have many friends who switched during seminary. It was harder for them to leave behind the old, but they found great joy in the new. My mom is struggling with this right now. She was raised Southern Baptist and is now Cumberland Presbyterian. She too is looking toward spiritual direction and wonders where God is leading especially in a church whose current leadership seems intent upon tearing down instead of building up. The change can be difficult and painful, just as all growth can be.
    Praying for you, knowing God is moving even when other's try to stop it!

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  5. No specific answer to your question, but much heart for your struggle and many prayers. I am quite sure you are not alone. We make this way too hard for all the wrong reasons. (((Mrs. M.)))

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  6. Yup, that's me--spent some time in the TEC process in one diocese where it was proceeding well but unevenly, moved to another for DH's work and had to start completely over (or, more accurately, wait a year to do so). And ultimately ended up going Independent Catholic instead, which of course doesn't have the usual infrastructure so may not be what you're thinking of. Big mix of joy and pain but thus far it seems to be working for me (with an awful lot of ecumenical support, including y'all at RGBP and creativity from Godde and me alike....But then it's a way to return to my first call and community even though not institutionally. I forget if you started TEC or not, actually....

    Anyway, I am sorry you and others are going through so much misery and cruelty and will pray for your peace of mind and your discernment about discernment....If you ever want to vent some more email me at laura AT grimes DOT ws and we can do it that way or trade phone numbers.

    (((Mrs. M.)))

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  7. Mrs. M, praying and keeping watch. Don't know much about this particular question, but from all said, it does seem possible.

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  8. Yes, that's me, too.

    I began the ordination process with the Church of God (Anderson, IN,) but it turned out that the community that nurtured and raised me was not the one in which I would remain. I went through a major time of grief because I still love the Church of God and have a lot of gratitude for their support and nurture.

    However, When I was in process with them, I struggled with trying to be acceptable while still maintaining my integrity and found that I absolutely could not do it.

    I'm praying for you, too.

    (((Mrs. M.)))

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  9. As others have said, it's difficult ... but possible ... especially if it is what God is calling you to do! (((o))) & prayers.

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  10. "prophetic imagination" I hear you!

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"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
-Saint Molly Ivins