After more than forty years as a Baptist pastor, the well-known and beloved John Claypool left the Baptist world to become an Episcopal priest. When quizzed as to why he would do such a thing, he responded, “I am just moving to another room in God’s house.” While in no way equating myself with John Claypool, I now find myself in the same situation. In less than two weeks, I will become the pastor of Union Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Watkinsville, Georgia. Leaving behind sixty years of being a Baptist, I find myself “moving to another room in God’s house.”
A few Sundays ago I had the privilege of attending the Episcopal ordination of a dear friend, Mary Bea Sullivan. Mary’s husband is the son of a Baptist pastor, is a former Baptist pastor himself, and is now an Episcopal priest. Sitting two rows in front of me was another Baptist minister friend who, years ago sang an original song as hands were being laid on my husband during his service of ordination as a Baptist pastor. As the service progressed, familiar words that were sung at my own ordination by my Baptist minister daughter, Emily, were being sung by the congregation:
I, the Lord of sea and sky, I have heard my people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin, my hand will save.
I who made the stars of night, I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear my light to them? Whom shall I send?
Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord? I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.
Why the history lesson? As I sat in the back of the sanctuary, the memories that were flooding over me helped me arrive at a clearer understanding of this ministry to which we are all called. It does not matter in which “room” we serve. What matters is that we listen to God’s call and follow that call wherever it may lead. Today I am thankful that my new experience is a “both/and” and not an “either/or.” Both my sixty years of Baptist heritage and ministry and my new calling to the Disciples of Christ are joining together. I am still a Baptist Woman in Ministry and a Disciples of Christ pastor. God is good!
Jane Hull will begin service as pastor of Union Christian Church, Watkinsville, Georgia, on June 2, 2014.