My history bridges both the Evangelical and Orthodox worlds. Though my leanings are Orthodox, I find the two have more in common than they differ.
In the mid 70’s my thinking was influenced by the writings of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, and I ended up spending some time at both the Swiss L’Abri and the L’Abri center in the Netherlands. It was a time of both intellectual development and personal growth.
After finishing an MDiv degree at Covenant Theological Seminary (St Louis, MO), I spent several years in a hospital chaplain internship at Missouri Baptist Hospital. It was during that time that I became interested in systems therapy and ‘liturgical’ actions. As an experiment I started wearing a clerical collar when visiting patients, and was surprised by how it changed the dynamics of the conversations (in both good and bad ways). This led to attending the liturgical conferences at Valparaiso University and becoming more immersed in the history of worship.
At St. Louis University, I took a course on ‘Early Christian Asceticism’ with Fr. Folley, a brilliant Jesuit teacher who introduced me to the wonders of the Early Church (via original source documents), and started my love of the Desert Fathers. It was during this time that I met Fr. Steven Kostoff, who at that time was the priest at Sts. Cyril & Methody Orthodox Church (Granite City, IL). In what became a good friendship, he did not so much answer my concerns about women in the ministry, or the nature of liturgy; as he forced me to re-examine the way I was asking the questions. After that, it was a slow slide into the Orthodox Church.
For several years my wife and I attended St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in St Louis, and after a move to a different part of town we became involved at St. Thomas Romanian Orthodox Church for about 12 years. With the blessing of our priest, the last eight years have been spent starting and being at All Saints of North America Antiochian Orthodox Church. Over this time I have experienced a fair diversity of the Orthodox community. St Louis has its own diversity of about 14 different churches in the metropolitan area, and I have made one trip to Mt Athos. Dormition Monastery (Rives Junction, MI) and Hermitage of the Holy Cross (Wayne, WV) are two places where I find the border between this world and the kingdom has been rubbed quite thin by the love of the monastics who live there.
Update: Since April 2016 I have retired, and my wife and I moved to Bloomington, IN where we are members of All Saints Orthodox Church.
I hope that these discussions become another place where you can find the border a little thinner.
Eve of the Elevation of the Cross – 2012AD