One of the things I'm doing during my campaign is visiting a different Faith
Community each week-end so as to meet the parishioners, experience the different
flavors of Christianity and behold the power of American Believers en mass!
I plan to visit not only Christian Churches & Congregations of different
faiths; but also some Jewish Synagogues, because, as a Jewish friend who
attended Christmas dinner with my family every year used to remind us: "Jesus
was a Rabbi".
So I'm going to invite you to join me as I go "On Pilgrimage" around Florida,
and as I put the photos of the various churches & congregations up here on the
site for your prayers and reflection.
(Click here to see the pictures in the "Photo-Gallery" at the bottom of
this page, each with the date of my
This has turned out to be an exciting Pilgrimage for me, as
I hit the road each Sunday with my trusty Nelson’s Study Bible, camera at my
side and a great sense of anticipation! In some churches we kneel, in some we
receive communion in both species. Often the children are welcomed to a special
moment at the altar; frequently parishioners stand and voice their concerns; and
always the hymns & praise are glorious! And I am learning to
listen carefully to discern whether I am in an “AH~men” or “AA~men” environment!
I personally was raised a Roman Catholic and was "Born Again" in an Assembly
of God congregation in Northern Montana. (Thank you Pastor Jim Slaska and
Father Gary Norman). And, due to my attendance at both churches in Scobey,
Montana ~ The Assembly "Country Gospel Singers" were soon caroling at the
Catholic Christmas Mass and Father Gary was coming over to the Assembly for
social events; and flying Pastor Jim around in his plane! (Montana is that big
of a place!)
God is powerful!
Now, to be frank with you the R.C. Church has never ~ in my experience
growing up ~ been big on The Bible. So in Montana on Sunday mornings I'd leave
the Nelson Study Bible that Pastor Jim advised me to purchase (and which we read
together on Wednesday nights and every other Friday on my day off) in the trunk
of my car as I hit the Catholic service at around 10 AM. Then I made sure to
have The Good Book in hand as I scurried over to The Assembly around 11 O'clock.
I'd be a little late there; and Pastor Jim would see me sneaking in the back and
shout out for the entire congregation to hear: "Here comes the doctor with
his Bible!" At which point there was a tremendous cheer and the music
became even more enthusiastic!
Those were great times for my growth as a Christian.
Today I am basically non-denominational and very occasionally attend a
service at my brother-in-law's church here in Fort Walton Beach, FL. (He married
my wife and I when we exchanged our vows). My current preference is to spend most
Saturdays ("Sabbath") in a non-electronic environment at home while reading &
studying Christian, Patriotic & Educational materials. (Although this has become more problematic as I
engage in campaign activities. However the great trade-off is that I'm attending
a lot of Sunday Services instead. In God's Plan there is a time for everything!) In 2006 I was able to purchase a facsimile copy of
The Codex Vaticanus B, 4th. century Bible and I am
currently slowly reviewing Mark from that source. (It, along with
is said to be one of the earliest records of the Bible).
I enjoy all church services and have fond memories of many,
particularly including a funeral I attended for one of my patients, an African-American
preacher, in inner city Indianapolis some years ago. Myself coming from a
tradition of mourning over death ~ I was stunned and uplifted by the joyous
celebration of this fine man's passing, in the fullness of years, by all members
of the congregation including his wife who danced in the aisles as she praised
the Lord and urged The Brother on to Glory!
That is another powerful Christian memory & "Teaching Moment" that remains with me to the present.
Indianapolis was also the place I delivered
the only sermon I ever gave!
It was around The Millennium and at the time I worked for a clinic of Methodist
Hospital. It was the tradition for them to have a lay person give the Good
Friday "Homily" at the Morris Street Methodist Church. I had always fancied that
if I ever became a preacher I'd be a real "Fire-and-Brimstone" one in the
tradition of The Great Awakening (see
"Sinners in the hands of an angry God!"
by Jonathan Edwards).
So I gave them a real stem-winder! And
if I can locate the sermon, I'll
put it up here for your attention.
Also check-out The Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University:
I want to thank you all for welcoming me to your faith
celebrations. As I write this, early in my Pilgrimage, I am enjoying warm
memories of recently attending the local Shalimar Methodist,
Baptist Churches as well as the
Niceville R.C. Congregation and my
brother-in-law's Fort Walton Beach Non-Denominational group, Grace Covenant
Church. (See photos
below). Many more are to
come, including the local Presbyterian service as soon as I get a fix on their
Update 1/31/10: The Shalimar Presbyterian Church Sunday service is at
11AM. There I met Elders Linda & George Shealy & their awesome congregation as
well as visiting Chaplain George Castillo & his wife Muriel; heard an uplifting
sermon on "Living by [and Walking in] the Spirit" with focus on Galatians
Chapter 5, emphasizing the special notion of "Christian Liberty"
whereby Christians are freed from enslavement to "The Law", but are
none-the-less restrained by other considerations. For not only must we resist
the lure of "The Flesh" [Materialism], but we are also obligated to demonstrate
the Fruit Of The Spirit outside of Church; and commit to Love and service of
neighbor. Following this I stayed for Fellowship ~ Thank you all!.
Ecumenism is what it's all about folks, and I long for the day when we'll all
bury our superficial differences and stand together as a single-minded,
Mighty Congregation of The Lord, to celebrate One Father in Three
Persons; give thanks for The Forgiveness of Sins &
The Miracle of The Resurrection; and finally establish The
Kingdom Of God right here and now! (Matt 6:33).
Update 2/7/10 ~ Today I did an unusual thing on my pilgrimage: I
returned to a church that I had visited only recently; the Fort Walton Beach,
Grace Covenant, Non-Denominational. I wanted to listen to Author-Lecturer Dennis Avi Lipkin, a Jewish-American speaker who lives part time in Jerusalem and
who served in the IDF. He gave a tremendous presentation outlining the current
Islamic threat to Israel, America and indeed all of Western Civilization. So
make sure to visit Avi Lipkin's site for more
2/14/10 ~ Valentine's Day! And a beautiful bright one
it was in Fort Walton Beach when I visited
United Methodist Church, just a few doors down from my office. I
hadn't realized what a large compound it was and got thoroughly lost in back
somewhere between the Fellowship Hall and the classrooms. But a kind parishioner
(Thank you, Madam!) showed me through to the worship area where I heard a great
sermon by The Rev. Robert G. Ellisor, Chief Pastor, on "Love that Lasts a
Lifetime." Pastor Ellisor took inspiration from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
("Love suffers long and is kind ...") and introduced the acronym "L-O-V-E" to
summarize the attributes of one who embarks on a deliberate choice to love.
(That, by the way is "Agape" love as compared to "Eros", "Philia" & "Storge";
for more details listen to "The
Four Loves" described and narrated by the great Christian Philosopher
C.S. Lewis and introduced by
Charles "Chuck" Colson). One who exhibits this Christian Love ~ as
demonstrated by God ~ endures all things and accepts any rejection to build up
and encourage the beloved. Pastor Bobby's acronym "L-O-V-E" stands for:
Listen (instead of talking or 'reloading'), Overlook
(faults), Voice (appreciation, both verbally and by action) &
undertake the Effort required to make the relationship work. Thank
From this point on, the church photos and brief comments can be
accessed via the Photo-Gallery thumbnails immediately below. For more
details including summaries of the various sermons, click on the "Index of Churches."