Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Encounters with tradition (1): from Pentecostal to Anglican?

A guest-post by Aaron Ghiloni

I did not leave Pentecostalism because I had somewhere else to go. I wasn’t conscripted by the Catholics or pursued by the Presbyterians. I left because I had to. Theologically frustrated, spiritually dry and emotionally exhausted, I quietly bid farewell.

Like many Pentecostals, I was nurtured in revival. From birth, I was born-again on a weekly basis (if not more frequently). This was my life, my family’s life. Therefore, departing was incredibly difficult. If you’ve gone through this, you will know what I mean. It was obvious that I must leave – still, leaving was gruelling.

And so, I not only left holy-rolling and tongue-talking behind, but also good friends and a lifetime of memories. I had nowhere to go. I shook, sighed, and swayed. The vertigo of an ex-Pentecostal is ferocious. Since my Pentecostal days I have worshipped with a Baptist congregation, studied at an evangelical seminary, and been employed by various churches (non-denominational, Methodist, and now Anglican).

I have gone from Pentecostalism to – what? Officially, I’m Anglican, but unofficially I’m undecided. I’m denominationally ambivalent. It’s not that I frivolously bounce about like an excited toddler or a volatile teen, but that for the formerly-staunch Pentecostal, traditions and denominations are greatly relativised. One can have only one first love. Once a Pentecostal, always a Pentecostal (at least in some ways).

Being a part of this or that movement is no longer that important. And while for career purposes I may identify myself with a particular church, it is not because they have won my devotion. I simply cannot change the fact that my heart beat the hardest and my blood pumped the fastest at an old Pentecostal altar.

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