The next shoreline clean-up date for the Beach Fellowship will be Saturday, October 12th at Anderson Beach. We will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the Third Hour Prayer. From 9:30 to 11:45 is litter collection time. We’ll end at 12 noon with Sixth Hour Prayer. The prayers are Orthodox Christian and optional for anyone participating with us.
You’d think that with 17 years of pastoral experience and over 20 years as a licensed and ordained Baptist minister (before my conversion), that I would be ready to set up a pulpit and preach the word. I am in no hurry. This Fellowship is not a sedgeway into some non-denominational church plant. If a church is to develop from this, it will be Orthodox. That will take God’s blessing (unless He builds the house, it will fall). And if is His will, we must follow proper procedures and protocols. And if one doesn’t, so what? As long as God’s will is done, nothing else matters.
Father Nathaniel Johnson made a powerful observation during the 2014 Ancient Faith & Afro-American Conference. The Desert Fathers of Egypt didn’t run around advertising and proclaiming who they were. The spiritual lives they led attracted men and women from all over the empire to these arid outskirts along the Nile River. If we strive to be the best Christians by growing our inward prayer lives and struggling against our passions, this would be a better means of drawing people to us rather than standing on street corners telling people what they ought to be.
Perhaps for this reason alone, my first focus should be on my interior spiritual development. Of course, this is an ongoing process for any minister. Orthodox Christianity all but demands that a clergyman does not slack in this pursuit and offers volumes of holy writings from ancient fathers to more recent keepers of traditional Christian thought from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Eastern Europe. I am in the process of absorbing this treasury. When the time comes for me to preach again on a regular basis, I’ll be ready and continue to ready myself.
Many a ministry dies early because someone is in too much of a hurry to speak without seeing what the need of the community is. I am a bit fortunate that the Lord seems to have led me to an urban community with beach front parks. My experience and training at York River State Park will come in handy with watershed education programs for the local schools and youth centers. But, I need to spend more time in the East End learning the people, the problems, and the overall vibe.
By the grace of God, a ministry is beginning. Preaching is not a main and initial focus for us. The East End Beach Keepers Fellowship is about prayer and practice. By the grace of Christ and the Holy Spirit, that will not change if/when I start delivering sermons.