Church Stuff-More or less

Does the church make sense or do we make it too hard for people to come in? I think yes and yes and the task then is to make it easier. Maybe for someone out there, this will be the case. I write as a Lutheran (or, perhaps a Lutherpalian) although I might seem out of the mainstream from time to time. That's okay, isn't it? Let's blog on.

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Location: Northport, Long Island, United States

Contrary to what Google will tell you, I have been blogging for several year, right here. Look for Churchstuff-moreorless. life was a hell of a lot easier when you could talk to someone to get help. Now, you can't do it on the telephone, you can't do it on the internet. Life was easier and made more sense because people actually cared. Now they will screw you as quickly as they will help you. Unfuck the world.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Lutherpalian??? What's up with that?

I allude, in my bio, to being, in fact, a "Lutherpalian". It is a contraction of the words Lutheran and Episcopalian, not original with me. It reflects a couple of things but most importantly, my faith journey.
Growing up, my family wasn't exactly churchgoers. My mother is Greek Orthodox and, while her father had been responsible for helping develop a couple of GO parishes, the only time we went to that church was for special occasions- my baptism, some weddings, and some funerals. For the latter, I think my sister and I waited in the car with our father. He was a disaffected Roman Catholic who, whenever the priest said something silly in a homily, would trot down to the Episcopal congregation. So, when I was in the fifth grade, he took me to Sunday School. Most of the year. Then, that was it until I started attending the local Lutheran church. On one hand, it was the church of my German ancestors. OTOH, it was basically the only place for teens to hang out and it was a block or so from the girl I was dating. Regardless, it took me in and my journey took off.
About the time that the Lutherans (my ELCA ones) and the Episcopal Church finally worked out the details of our "Call to Common Mission," I learned that the Washington National Cathedral (aka The Cathedral Church of Sts. Peter and Paul) was in need of daily chaplains. I had been taking my acolyte corps there each October for the annual Acolyte Festival and was in awe of the place. I soon became the sole Lutheran chaplain in that House of God for all Peoples. Initially, I was commissioned(?) by Bp Jane Holmes Dixon. So, on the second Tuesday of each month, I drove down and took my turn. What a wonderful experience it was!
The chaplain du jour had several responsibilities. One was to be present. Not hard, I really liked being present in the bookstore/gift shop! Second, was to preside over the noon mass and I thankfully had several helpful vergers (Dr. Judith Greene, to mention one, is a retired MD and, to the uninitiated, a mighty stern woman. Though I knew otherwise!) to get me through the Book of Common Prayer. Regardless, it was an inspiring opportunity, preaching in the same room as Dr King, and so many others. Thirdly, we offered the Intercessions of the visitors in one of the chapels at about 2:00. If you have never been there, there is a place where you can make your prayer request known on paper and it is offered that day. I've saved several of those requests and look at them each day. One was sought by a young girl named Becca W. who wrote "My DAD kieth he is in the war PRay that he will not die." I do, Becca, I do, every day. Another youth wrote "For all those who died before their voices could be heard." Another "I hope no wun gets sik." And there were the prayers written in Korean, Japanese, and Arabic. I believe God knew what they had written even if I was clueless.
One September, I got in my car around 9 and headed down to DC. It was the 11th. As I always have the radio on in the car, I heard the news from NY and as I approached Washington, I could see the smoke in the distance, coming from the Pentagon. When I drove onto the grounds of the cathedral, it was eerily quiet. I parked the car and saw Judy and Bp Dixon confering in front of the Diocesan office. We decided to close the cathedral that day because there had been a joint Christian/Muslim conference scheduled that day and they didn't want to be a target. Made some sense I guess but, in my heart of hearts, I thought we should be open for business, as usual. Since that day, the cathedral pauses at each three-quarter hour and a prayer for peace is offered.
As I was preparing to leave the congregation in Baltimore, I contacted Bp John Rabb at the Diocese of Maryland and had my credentials accepted for ministry in the Episcopal Church. And that, my friends, is how I became a "Lutherpalian."
Aren't you glad you asked?!


Blogger chartreuseova said...

Well I didn't ask (I just found your blog today), but thanks for the explanation. I've been trying to figure out just what I am. I too have taken quite a scenic journey that has included stops at the Roman Catholic church and several Protestant denominations.

Right now I just identify myself as a's just easier that way. But people tend to want a more specific label as if that will really tell them what you believe.

If I were to create a new label for myself, I'm afraid it would be very long & definitely unpronounceable. But I just might try it someday.

10:26 AM  
Blogger RuthRE said...

Thanks! Great story.
I started off Lutheran in the LCMS....and I found my way to the ELCA in college just as the "Call to Common Mission" was signed and ratified or whatever

....and I remember going to church that first Sunday of it and we'd set up a clergy exchange with the local Episcopal parish....who sent over their Lady priest.....probably the start of my discernment right there..."hey she's a lady minister....kewl"

When I graduated and moved back toward where I'd grown up...I almost 'went episcopalian' when I didn't find the perfect ELCA parish right away....but then I did :)

I just love the true connection of the ELCA and the Episcopal Church...when I need an earlier service...or a late Saturday one I hit one of 3 or so local Episcopal parishes. Or sometimes I just visit, because I want to.

10:33 PM  
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Blogger Swandive said...

I love love love this post, as a self identified Lutherpalian myself. Bless you.

10:47 AM  
Blogger LutheranChik said...

I am a dispositional Lutherpalian -- which is to say that I love High Church, love and use the Book of Common Prayer, love the doctrinal generosity, if you will, of Anglicanism and otherwise appreciate my Anglican sisters' and brothers' approach to Christian spirituality...but theologically Lutheranism resonates the most with me; I was born and bred Lutheran, fell off the bus, but came back later in life.

Happy Delurking Week!

10:09 AM  

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