Greetings in Christ to all who read this from brothers and sisters in the church of Southern California!
My name is Paul and my friend John Bugay has graciously invited me to participate in his efforts here at Reformation 500. His invitation is both gracious and humbling.
John and I share similar backgrounds in that we are both “cradle Catholics”. That is, we both grew up in the Roman Catholic Church although we have now since departed. In fact, my most cherished childhood memories revolve around my involvement in the RCC. I graduated from both Catholic elementary and high schools and as such made nearly all my early friendships in a Catholic environment. And I was very fortunate to grow up not only in a Catholic parish, but in a cathedral parish. (In RC nomenclature the cathedral is the bishop’s church and is the center of activity for him and all the parishes under his control.) And I grew up not only in a cathedral parish, but in the parish that has the largest cathedral in the state of Illinois. (Not the largest diocese in terms of numbers of parishioners, but the largest building.) It was, and is, a spectacular place – six stories tall and a full city block long. It is an enclosure which allows sound to travel for seven and a half seconds before quiet is restored! So I have personally witnessed all the pomp and circumstance of the ordination of bishops and priests, the majesty of the Mass celebrated with nearly a thousand people present and the regalia of bishops, monsignors and priests. And I am grateful for all of it.
And I come from a very “Catholic” family. My father was a daily communicant for more than 35 years and his younger brother was a Catholic priest and still is a canon lawyer. Their uncle was the bishop of Peoria for a time and all my siblings still remain Catholics. So I have imbibed of the Catholic life for a great many years.
But later in life the Holy Spirit began his work in me. I began to hear the gospel preached in a Godly manner while I worked at a Presbyterian Church. I began to see what Christianity must have looked like in the early days when small groups looked out after each other sharing possessions and caring for the needs of others, just as in Acts 2.
My conversion wasn’t immediate and I don’t have a Damascus road story. But over time, the Holy Spirit brought me to Southern California and into a large PCUSA church which is a wonderful blend of the “big” from my childhood, and the “small” of my later life. God was pleased to have me ordained an elder in the PCUSA nearly 20 years ago now and His constant tugging drew me to John and his wonderful work here.
I would ask that you pray that anything I may contribute will glorify God in the process. And that He will guide me to offer those things that not only glorify Him, but contribute to the work of His church on earth.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)
And a Merry Christmas to all!