My journey to convergence started in 2008 when a good friend and mentor sold his house to an Anglican Priest. This sparked a close friendship between them. Not long after their relationship began I was asked if I would join them for morning prayer at the Anglican parish where this priest was the rector.
At that time I was a Pastor at a Charismatic, Evangelical Church. Our Lead Pastor was an extremely gifted prophetic man who taught us to live in pursuit of the presence of God. He was someone that I respected greatly and still do. The church was focused in the same way I was, which was primarily charismatic but with evangelical priorities. I loved this, was aligned with it and functioned well in it. It was how I was raised and how my faith had flourished. This was my reality as I walked into that Anglican Church in 2008.
As I walked in I felt fear, it was palpable in the room. I had never experienced this before. This was what the scriptures talked about when they spoke of the fear of God. I understood awe, I knew wonder but I can’t say that I felt or understood true reverence until I walked into the naive (sanctuary) that day.
The following hour was full of experiences that blew my two dimensional box open. I felt the Spirit decend on me as the group of elderly men and women read aloud prayers written hundreds of years earlier. Embarrassingly I thought “God, are you really here?” I sat there stunned, feeling the weight of the Spirit resting on me, gently telling me that my preconceived ideas were wrong. I had grown up believing that most people in Historic traditions (Anglican, Roman Catholic & Eastern Orthodox to name a few) were not truly saved. If they happened to be saved then they were definitely guilty of grieving God’s heart because they didn’t know the Holy Spirit. Yet everything we prayed, read and spent time meditating on was speaking the opposite.
I remember staying late and talking with the Priest afterwards. He kept laughing with this beautifully abrasive laugh that made the pew shake as we spoke. I felt at home there, with him in that place. Then he said the single most shocking and life changing thing he could have said. He said “Honestly Rob, I believe in all this stuff (gesturing towards the alter, pews, and baptismal font) but if the Spirit isn’t in it, I don’t want anything to do with it!”
My jaw hit the floor.
In that moment he jumped right into my world and began speaking my language. I left the church that morning knowing that this was a beginning. A beginning of what, I was unsure but I hadn’t left the same.
Over the next year the Lord continued to bring me in contact with people of Historic tradition. Some were old friends that had recently moved into Historic churches and some were new friends. I felt myself being drawn to this new understanding of faith that I had never known before. I was drawn to the sights and smells. The tangibleness of their faith was striking and inspiring. At the same time God was also increasing my desire for my evangelical heritage. This didn’t come at the expense of the Charismatic but came in as a reinforcement and gurding to the gifts God had given me.
At the same time it became obvious to church leadership and to me that our time at our church was drawing to an end. When this happened it left me asking what God was wanting for us. Through a series of amazing encounters with new friends God led us to Lethbridge to train with Todd Atkinson. I knew of Todd as a revivalist preacher from my past. I also knew him as a studied man of the word. In my opinion he was a true Charismatic Evangelical. Someone who held these two traditions together in tension.
When I arrived in Leghbridge I found it just as I imagined. Fully committed to being an Evangelical and Charismatic Church. Though in my first months here there began an interesting conversation. This was a conversation about a third tradition, one I thought I had put aside for a time, the Historic. Todd began a journey of seeking the treasures of the Historic Church. There were many God ordained moments for him and us as a church where God moved us further and further into a love for the Historic tradition. Before we knew it we found ourselves now holding all three traditions, Historic, Evangelical and Charismatic in tension. I was committed. I was in, not knowing what that even meant or what to call it I had committed my life to holding these three traditions, that had been the point of division for the church in recent centuries, together as one expression. This was my journey to becoming a part of the convergent church. The church fighting to hold these three things together as the early church once did.
The culmination of this was at my ordination on April 19, 2013 when I was ordained a deacon into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
The movement I belong to, Via Apostolica, is not the only ones to do this and we definitely are not the one to start it but we do believe in it wholeheartedly. Convergence has become more than a tag word, it is now a passion for me. Something I am willing to give myself for. The unity, and fullness of Christ’s body being one again.