- I resonated deeply with Reformed Theology.
A phenomenal professor (the late, truly great Ray S. Anderson) had introduced me to Barth and made me fall in love with Bonhoeffer. I still wasn't sure what to do with T.U.L.I.P, but I was warming up to Calvin; and the sovereignty of God and emphasis on grace was balm to my overachieving and now disillusioned self who had always felt my faith was in my own hands. I knew enough to know I wanted to know more.
- I loved preaching.
and Presbyterians know a little something about that...(Barth's threefold Word: AMEN!)
- I wanted deep roots and wide connections
I didn't feel I had inherited any real historical Christian roots. There was a jump in my Christian family tree from the disciples to me, from scripture to my own congregation, and I longed for something more. I wanted to benefit from a history, from centuries of Christians working out what faith meant for them and passing it onto me. (In other words - I was pumped about the Book of Confessions!)
- I wanted a denomination with a spectrum of beliefs, views and worship styles
I had dabbled in enough different denominations by this point, and been labeled and prejudged personally by liberals and conservatives alike, to know there was value in (and room for) many perspectives. I wanted a denomination that valued this as well. Truth, I had come to believe, is not held completely by one particular perspective, and is rather found in the tension between, the commitment to wrestle and wonder, the process of faithful searching, and the support for each other despite differences. If all churches were just like the one I grew up in, a whole lot of people would be missed, and there would be great gaps in our understanding and experience of God and how we live out our faith. But the same was true of the much more liberal church I attended on Easters. It was church to a certain group of people, faithful to its context and calling, but not, in and of itself, the complete picture of the church. We need each other. We need people that believe differently than we do. We need people that worship differently than we do. We need the quiet contemplatives and the rowdy contemporaries and time-honored traditional types. We need those who are committed to uphold scripture as God's word and cultivate personal faith in Christ above all else. We need those who emphasize living out faith in social contexts, fighting for justice and working for peace. The church can only be the church if we are all in it together - despite (and because of!) our differences. I loved this about the Presbyterian Church - that its name was on church buildings on both ends of many spectrums.
After making the decision and beginning my journey, it was another six and a half years before I was ordained. Years spent traveling, working in churches, supplementing my education with Presbyterian classes, completing hurdles, passing exams, meeting MANY more Presbyterians and learning all along the way. By the time I was ordained in 2006, I could say confidently, as I do now, (though still with not a little surprise): I am a Presbyterian.
Next week on the Mainline Protestant Portal: Why I'm Episcopal
This article originally appeared on the blog In the Here and Now and is reprinted with permission.
Kara K. Root is an ordained Minister of Word and Sacrament, and a Certified Christian Educator, in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She is