"For me to tell my story, I must begin by saying that I hope I’ve gotten this journey right, that I have discerned the guidance of the Lord, that I haven’t fallen into the comfortable confidence that I have figured it all out and that others who don’t see it this way are all wrong. When people ask, “How could you have done this?” I respond that I didn’t set out to leave the circle of my Baptist beginnings, ending up in a world I had never thought about before. It was well after I had taken a sharp turn that the world of Orthodox faith even crossed my mind.
I had plenty of reason to stay where I began. In that world, I experienced the love of God through his people, I heard the gospel of Christ and embraced his salvation, I was taught the Scriptures, and I was given great privileges to serve in churches and institutions. What more could anyone ask for?
I look back on a secure Christian community: My parents loved God, each other, my older brother Don and me, and the Baptist church in upstate New York where my spiritual formation took place. I look back on the Christian college and seminary that taught me and gave me wonderful insight into the goodness of God. I was blessed by the faithful, loyal, and kind people who invested in my life, encouraged me, and opened doors for me that gave me forty years of fruitful ministry and support. I owe my Baptist world a lot.
A few months ago my wife, Jean, and I spent an evening with a woman we had taught forty years earlier at a Christian college in Southern California. She told us that when she heard we had become Orthodox, she wasn’t surprised. I found in her words a hint that my journey began long before I knew I was traveling. In those intervening forty years, Jean and I had lived in California, Ohio, and Illinois and had served three Baptist churches. During those years, we had been involved with various Evangelical organizations and colleges and had felt deep fulfillment and purpose in serving them. We sent our two children to Evangelical schools and colleges. We weren’t planning to go anywhere else, and yet there was always a sense that we needed to discover and grow into something more, something greater, richer, and more compelling."
Read the rest of Wilbur Ellsworth’s journey to Eastern Orthodoxy in Journeys of Faith, now available at your favorite bookseller.