DUE TO HEAVY SNOWS IN WESTERN KENTUCKY...WIDESPREAD 6 TO 12 INCH SNOWFALL AMOUNTS HAVE HAULTED AREA TRAVEL. ISOLATED 15 INCH AMOUNTS HAVE BEEN REPORTED. DRIFTS UP TO A FOOT AND A HALF HAVE ALSO BEEN REPORTED. THIS IS A DANGEROUS STORM SITUATION AND TRAVEL SHOULD BE AVOIDED IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. (National Weather Service)
Davis Motor Sales banner ad
ronniemcbrayer300 cKENTUCKY (9/15/13) - When I first met Father Thad I was a Baptist minister and he was the priest at the neighborhood Catholic parish. A complete stranger to me, he popped into my office and stated that he must use our church baptistery. A brief reminder about baptism: Baptists practice baptism by immersion. They dunk converts completely under the water.

Typically, Catholics practice sprinkling or pouring. And that is just the beginning of the differences between these two faith traditions on the issue. The theological meaning reinforcing the practice of baptism puts the camps even farther apart.

So when a Catholic priest showed up wanting to dunk a convert in the Baptist church, I knew I was dealing with someone shattering my typecast. Refreshingly, this watery encounter led to a series of interdenominational gatherings (potluck dinners, actually) between his parish and my congregation. In the process, we learned a lot about each other, and I learned a great deal about Thad.

In addition to the priesthood Thad had been a military chaplain; and shockingly, Thad was married and had adult children. Thad had been an Anglican priest, but through an extraordinary dispensation from the Vatican, converted to Catholicism. This man was a depository of mind-warping experiences, not the least of which was a personal story I loved to hear.

A parish he once led desperately needed to expand its ministry. But one man in the parish absolutely resisted, always squelching prospective change by saying something like, “My grandfather gave the land for this church; my daddy cleared the trees for the building; and we’re not going to change a thing” (Catholics don’t have a monopoly on this sentiment).

Thad finally had enough. In his remarkable way, he secured a diocese blessing and obtained a piece of land on the other side of town. He called the local house builders, and had the church relocated! I have this charming picture in my mind of the church, steeple atop, rolling down the road on stilts led by a vestment-clad Father Thad, reading the gospel and splashing holy water along the way.

When I first heard that story I told Thad, “If you were a Protestant, you could have just started another church (And with a wink, I’d add, “A church with a real baptistery”). His response was priceless: “Why start another church, when you can take it with you?”

Truth told, that is pretty good ecclesiology. Ecclesiology is what seminarians call the “doctrine of the church.” It answers the question: “What is the nature of the church?” And after several hundred years of modernity and religious institutionalism, more and more people are recognizing that the church is not a building. Sure, we say, “I go to church at such-and-such place,” but the real church is a people, not a place. It is a body, not a building. It is a living movement, not a fixed mailing address.

When the last homilies, sermons, songs, testimonies, and prayers are offered at your congregation or parish on Sunday morning, you don’t leave the church. You will leave a specific gathering of the church, certainly, but you take the church with you – because the church is you. You take it on the road, across town, into your workplace or university, into your living room, classroom, and board room: You embody the presence of Christ in the world.

Yes, I learned a lot from Father Thad. I learned that holding to fixed stereotypes prevents us from embracing the extraordinary individuals we meet along the way. I learned that communication between faith groups is the best possible means of reducing misunderstanding and conflict. I learned that overcoming problems sometimes requires boldness and creativity.

And I was reminded that whether we are sprinkled, dipped, poured, dunked, barely damp or soaking wet, we will not be defined so much by “where we go to church,” but by whether or not we will be the church once we leave the building. As Father Thad put it so accurately: “Why start another church, when you can take it with you?”

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.


Disclaimer: The content supplied by columnists and letters to the Editor on this site does not in any way, shape or form, implied or otherwise, necessarily express or suggest endorsement or support of any of such content, statement, or opinions therein. SurfKY News does not necessarily adhere to or endorse content provided by outside non-staff sources.

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story on social media.

Posted on 2/2/14
springhour
3/13 - 16
1 DOW 18,135.62
+38.72 (0.21%)    
2 S&P 2,101.05
+2.52 (0.12%)    
3 NASDAQ 4,981.84
+14.69 (0.30%)    
3/13 - 16

Most Read This Week

March 02, 2015 9360

Madisonville Teen Faces Numerous Drug Charges

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 8679

Multi-Agency Investigation Nets Large-Scale Meth…

in Top News For All Sites by Trooper Stu Recke
February 25, 2015 6412

New Asian Restaurant Coming to Madisonville

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
March 03, 2015 5614

Three Arrested during Traffic Stop

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
February 25, 2015 4396

Local Man Makes Unique Display from Area’s…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 02, 2015 3676

HCSO, MPD Join to Bust Alleged Drug Trafficking…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office

Most Read This Month

February 12, 2015

UPDATE: Name of Pennyrile Fatality Officially…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
February 16, 2015

UPDATE: State of Emergency Declared for Kentucky

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director

Stories Trending Today

March 05, 2015 3507

State of Emergency Declared for Hopkins County

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Leslie Curneal
March 03, 2015 2580

Superintendent: Spring Break Won't be Touched…

in Hopkins News by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 05, 2015 1777

KSP Reports Parkway, Interstate Blockages

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by John Davis, KSP
March 04, 2015 1554

Highway Crews Dealing with Landsides in…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Keith Todd
March 04, 2015 1376

KSP Warns of Old Scam Resurfacing in the Post 2…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper S. C. Recke
March 04, 2015 1120

Adamson Chosen as Madisonville MSU Campus’…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Tammy Holloway, SurfKY News
March 04, 2015 1086

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - March 4, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
March 04, 2015 1049

Muhlenberg County Educator Inducted into Kentucky…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by WKU News
March 05, 2015 983

Deep Snowfall Stalls Western Kentucky

in Top News For All Sites by SurfKY News
March 04, 2015 882

Mental Health Services Expanded at Western…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Steve Beshear