Above: Cover of the Bulletin, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991
Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor
On the morning of December 22, 1991, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I became an Episcopalian. The Right Reverend Harry Woolston Shipps (who died recently), then the Bishop of Georgia, confirmed me. Officially I retained membership in The United Methodist Church until the following Autumn, on the occasion of the 1992 Charge Conference of the Sumner Charge (four congregations at the time). Indeed, I remained substantially a Methodist for a long time, but I had begun to think of myself as an Episcopalian prior to my confirmation at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia.
I have become convinced that I was supposed to become an Episcopalian, for the affiliation is a natural fit for me. I am, after all, somewhat Roman Catholic while retaining many Protestant influences. Ritual appeals to me strongly also. Furthermore, The Episcopal Church grants me a wide berth to respect certain traditions, break with other traditions, bring my intellect to bear on my spiritual life, disagree peaceably with many people, and be an introvert without feeling out-of-place. Evangelicalism, as I have experienced it, is relentlessly extroverted. That is not an inherently negative characteristic, but the manner in which many extroverts fail to respect the value of introversion and therefore marginalize introverts is unfortunate. Indeed, personality typing helps to explain why certain denominations and styles of prayer are preferable to some people but not others. That which feeds one person starves another.
I have never looked back from my choice to become an Episcopalian. As I have become more liberal in some ways, more conservative in others, and incorporated Lutheran theology into my thought, I have become a different type of Episcopalian than I was in 1991. My faith life is a work in progress; I wonder how it will proceed as I continue from day to day. The Episcopalian way of being simply makes sense to me. Since I moved to Athens, Georgia, in August 2005, I have dwelt spiritually primarily at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia. I have also frequented two university chaplaincies (Episcopalian and Presbyterian U.S.A.), attended services at First Presbyterian Church and Holy Cross Lutheran Church, engaged in community volunteering at one Presbyterian U.S.A. and two United Methodist congregations, participated in a performance of the first part off Handel’s Messiah at Oconee Presbyterian Church (Watkinsville), and attended community functions at four other churches (Disciples of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Assemblies of God, and non-denominational Charismatic) in the area. Furthermore, I have attended a diocesan gathering at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, without ever entering a worship space there. The fact that I seldom want to attend services in another denomination demonstrates the fact that I have found my niche. Why should I seek another place? Nevertheless, I am agreeable to ecumenical engagements.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
DECEMBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA
THE TWENTY-SIXTH DAY OF ADVENT
THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AND WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY
THE FEAST OF SAINTS CHAEREMON AND ISCHYRION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS
THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, FIRST ANGLICAN NATIVE PRIEST IN NORTH AMERICA; MISSIONARY TO THE CREE NATION
THE FEAST OF JAMES PRINCE LEE, BISHOP OF MANCHESTER