Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A New Creation in Christ

Many of you reading this may know that I am serving in the diocese as the mission vicar for our newest church plant, Christ the Redeemer, as well as the chaplain to the Canterbury chapter at Texas Christian University. What you may not know is that I am a cradle Episcopalian.

Raised in North Carolina in my early years, I was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal denomination, and also participated actively in my parish EYC and as an Acolyte. When my family moved to Fort Worth in the early '80s, we landed at St. Andrew's because it most resembled the parishes we attended in North Carolina.

During college, I did not attend church...plain and simple. However, God opened the doors for my return through a friend who invited me to his church, located in the mid-cities. And so, it was through the Baptist denomination that I became "a new creation in Christ". For the first time, the message of the gospel penetrated my spirit. I began to identify with John Wesley's declaration that upon hearing the gospel, "I felt my heart strangely warmed." I knew God was calling me to serve Him in some way. I soon discerned that He was "calling me back to my roots," back to the Episcopal denomination - back to St. Andrew's.

I soon found myself on the first diocesan mission to Malawi, Africa in 1996. Through that transformational experience, I resolved to leave a budding career in commercial real estate and serve the Lord full-time. I was offered a position at St. Andrew's as the youth minister. Nothing could've made me happier. It was as if God was allowing me to "pick up where I had left off" and help the youth know and love Jesus in a way I hadn't experienced in my younger years.

It was during this time that I began to know God was calling me to priestly vocation. This calling was confirmed after five fantastic years at St. Andrew's, a rigorous examination by the Commission on Ministry, and a vote of confidence by my sending parish. So, I departed to Nashotah House to study for Holy Orders.

I am now 38 years old and have been ordained priest just over 3 years. I am thankful to God for the path on which He has placed me - from my earliest days in North Carolina to my later formation in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth - to become a priest in Christ's one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I have rounded my evangelical roots with a passion for catholic Faith and Order. And, it is in this high calling that I will serve Jesus in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, under the direcion of Bishop Iker, as mission vicar and Canterbury chaplain.

Of course, this means enaging in the hard work of our creedal declarations - one, holy, catholic, apostolic. Therefore, in my next post, I will address the present condition of the Anglican Communion in relation to our Creed and discuss the necessary action of the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, under the direction of Bishop Iker, not only for the preservation of the historic Faith and Order, but its advancement!

The Rev. Christopher P. Culpepper

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