Pick Your Community: | Hopkins | Muhlenberg | Daviess | Christian | Fayette | Henderson | Lakes | McCracken | Warren | Webster

Keeping the Faith - Take It with You

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 2014 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 by using one of the social media links below.

Most Read This Week (Site-Wide)

April 16, 2014 19653

UPDATE- Sheriff's Office Following Leads…

in Top Stories by Taylor Riley, SurfKY News Reporter
April 17, 2014 4438

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 16, 2014 3297

Sheriff's Deputies Nab Central City…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 17, 2014 3069

Meet The Hopkins County Magistrate…

in News by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 16, 2014 1837

Rand Paul - 'We Need a New President'

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter

Most Read Stories from Hopkins County

April 17, 2014 4438

KSP Nabs St. Charles Man Wanted by U.S.…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 18, 2014 1176

Talking Teen Trashed Telephone Pole,…

in Top Stories by MPD
April 18, 2014 942

Earlington Traffic Stop Results in Meth…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 19, 2014 822

Fifth Third on Main Street Comes Down

in Top Stories by Rita Dukes Smith, SurfKY News Director
April 17, 2014 765

Center Street-Island Ford Connector in…

in Top Stories by Rebecca Hanchett

Most Read Stories from Owensboro

April 16, 2014 1103

New Home Health Care Opens in Owensboro

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
April 18, 2014 1061

Daviess County School Board Hears…

in News by Dennis Beard, SurfKY News
April 18, 2014 1011

One Arrested, Another Injured in Single…

in News by J.D. Marksberry
April 16, 2014 878

DCPS to Celebrate National Volunteer Week

in News by Lora Wimsatt
April 17, 2014 314

Owensboro Public Works Declares 'War on…

in Top Stories by Abby Shelton

Most Read Stories from Muhlenberg County

April 16, 2014 3297

Sheriff's Deputies Nab Central City…

in Top Stories by Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 16, 2014 1478

South Carrollton Woman Injured in Head-on…

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 17, 2014 1452

Bremen Man Charged for Possession of…

in Top Stories by Muhlenberg Sheriff Curtis McGehee
April 16, 2014 1304

Three Injured in Kentucky 70 Collision

in Top Stories by Trooper Stu Recke
April 17, 2014 1284

Watson Family Tragedy Inspires Muhlenberg…

in Top Stories by Paul McRee, SurfKY News Reporter

SurfKY News Group, Inc. Central Office & Printing Division
1125 Nebo Rd.  •  Madisonville, KY 42431  •  270.452.2249 (fax)
Main Number: 270.452.2727 (phone)  •  Printing Division Direct Line: 270.821.8600 (phone)

SurfKY Owensboro News Bureau
920 Frederica St. / Suite 210  •  Owensboro, KY 42301  •  270.683-8060 (phone)


Contact a member of our staff: www.surfky.com/contact
Copyright © 2014 SurfKY News Group, Inc.  •  Terms of Use  •  Site Map

social 06social 21social 22social 04social 03