Tuesday, February 9, 2016
From my earliest memories, I have been a Baptist. The first church I can recall was First Baptist Church in Childersburg, AL, where we lived with my grandmother while my Dad was serving in the Pacific during WW II. When our family moved to Birmingham after the war, I made my profession of faith and was baptized in Dawson Memorial Baptist Church. When I went to Georgia Tech, First Baptist Church in Atlanta became my church (this was before Stanley!). When I transferred to Samford University (then Howard College), I was back at Dawson Memorial. When I went to Seminary in Louisville, I joined the staff at Shawnee Baptist Church and served in several roles including interim pastor. When I started my doctoral work, I became pastor of First Baptist Church in Crothersville, IN (an American Baptist, but still very much Baptist). When I went to Campbell College (now University), the First Baptist Church of Buies Creek was my home church (even though I often was away preaching in churches in the area). When I moved to Nashville to work at the Sunday School Board of the SBC, Immanuel Baptist Church became my home church. When I retired 25 years later and moved to Dandridge, TN, First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, TN became my spiritual home for more than a decade. Last Sunday I became a Methodist, joining the First United Methodist Church of Oviedo, FL. Generally I would say, Baptists gradually "left" me through the years rather than I left the Baptists. While there is a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship church in the Orland area and I wish I could have joined there, it was just too far away for me to be actively engaged in its work and ministries. The Methodists required me to attend a series of new member orientation sessions, something no Baptist church had ever required of me. For me, the issue now is no longer what branch of the Christian faith I am associated with. It is more which believers will open their hearts, minds, and arms to all those who seek to know Christ, embrace His love, and follow Him in a loving and inviting way.