I was raised in the “Non-Denominational Christianity” denomination. My parents moved our family out to a horse ranch when I was 7 and that’s where I grew up. My family and I were very involved and attended a couple of different churches in Southern Oregon. I was active in the typical protestant worship scene and gravitated towards smaller churches as time went on because I found the larger churches felt more superficial.
Before I moved to the Portland area, I started attending a newly formed “Cowboy Church”. This church was made up of people in the rural community and took place in a large barn out in the middle of nowhere. Instead of morning Orthros, Divine Liturgy, and coffee hour, we religiously ate BBQ, sang old hymns restyled to Blue Grass (I played the banjo), and listened to our Pastor’s opinion on whatever scripture he chose to read that day.
I appreciated the smaller group dynamics and the worship seemed much less focused on the individuals leading it. Everything was very genuine, and I felt content that we weren’t receiving messages too far from the truth since it all started and ended with scripture.
Upon moving to Portland for work, I found myself churchless with lots of free time on my hands. I discovered Robert and Jessie Crosby recently moved to Portland as well (I attended a private Christian high school with Robert) and they were already checking out Saint John’s, so I joined them. Coincidentally, many of our friends from this private Christian high school in Southern Oregon had been looking into the Orthodox Church.
Like many converts at Saint John, I was very overwhelmed by all of these initial Orthodox experiences. As a lifelong Christian, there is no way to not be overwhelmed by discovering the true faith of the Apostles, it changes everything. I never thought it would be an option to experience the Church that had written my bible. In barely over a year, my life had been transformed, my faith turned right-side-up, and I met and married the love of my life.
Like many other converts, I found that reading the early Church fathers provides undeniable evidence that the Orthodox Church is the Church that Christ started.
The years following have been a deluge of new lessons and perspectives on life as I try to adopt the sacramental life and leave behind a life with very few spiritual disciplines. Lord have mercy.