Community and Togetherness…Separation and Grief

I ran across the conversion story of William J. Cork, a former Lutheran Pastor (with a Seventh Day Adventist background) tonight and found a couple passages I wanted to share.

As I would articulate it in years to come, having been raised in a legalistic and sectarian environment, I had two critical issues: the Gospel and the church. I liked what Ford and Brinsmead [controversalists within the SDA–J] were saying about the Gospel’s message of unconditional forgiveness, but I didn’t think forming a splinter movement of a splinter movement was the answer. My study of the church’s history opened to me the continuity of the faith of the ages; experiences with other Christians led me to seek out new and wider forms of fellowship. The Gospel, I came to believe, must create a community of faith in continuity with the preaching of the Apostles. It must draw us toward other believers, not away from them. [emphasis mine–J]

Even though Mr. Cork eventually left the SDA denomination and became a Lutheran chaplin and pastor before finally entering the Catholic Church, his wife remains an Adventist.

Joy found herself pulled between me and her parents; my own father had joined the Adventist church not long before. In such emotionally charged surroundings, Joy was not about to even consider leaving; when her brother formally left, it was a second blow to her family. She has remained an Adventist to this day. Our marriage could have been shattered at that time had it not been for one of my professors, to whom I went for counseling. He helped me see that one who undergoes a conversion experience goes through the same sort of grief process as one who is watching a loved one die — and the convert’s family and friends go through a parallel process. There will be anger, and denial, and depression, he warned. And so there was. [emphasis mine, again–J]

I enjoyed the rest of his story as well. Looks like he’s also done a fair bit of other writing about the Faith on his site. I don’t why I haven’t heard of him before now, unless I have and forgotten.