Like many of my friends, I became a Christian in several stages... and I see this as a walk which is continuing, and will continue for the rest of my life. And yet I can say that I had a conversion experience... but would rather say that the conversion experience is a continuing one.

My conversion went something like this:

  1. brought up with a Christian background (1963 onwards)... my father was a priest in the Church of England
  2. felt some sense of being called by God to do something (the day I graduated from my first degree, summer 85)
  3. encountered the Franciscans, and noticed there was something special about their life, something to do with their prayer life
  4. heard at an evangelistic/preaching meeting that God the Father loves us as much as he loves God his own Son... this was when I first thought of myself as ``born again'', but there was more to come...
  5. became a postulant, then a novice and eventually full member, of the Franciscan Third Order... more and more I felt the call to live simply, growing with the call to pray and to follow Christ
  6. read the book ``A Hidden Fire'' by Br. Ramon SSF: a significant turning point!
  7. started to sing and pray in tongues, actually at a very low point in my life
  8. read the booklet ``The Road to Life'' and gave my sins over to Christ, at a University mission meeting... for those who like to pin-point a particular moment as the moment of conversion, this was mine!

Since then, one of the things that most moved me into deeper faith has been hearing the recital of St. John's Gospel (at the Cambridge Univeristy Mission 1997, ``Unmasked'', still in progress at the time of writing!)) by Paul Alexander... really bringing it alive, speaking from memory and making it sound extempore, as though he were the original Evangelist giving a talk, and slipping from the narrator into each of the characters in turn.

By ``deeper'', I mean not only stronger in terms of its effects on me (I think) but also more focused on the love God has for us, and less on ``religious'' views (although doctrine and practice are still just as important to me as before -- in fact, more so); the central preacher in triggering this change has been Bishop Richard Holloway; I'm not happy with all that he says, but he has an important emphasis on God's love!

Since then, I've been becoming in some sense more ``liberal'' and relational, less rule-minded and mechanistic, in my faith, and a new series of changes is in progress:

  1. I found that, as a non-standard person (e.g. trying to think for myself rather than following what most people do) I didn't really fit, and in some cases wasn't welcome, in many church activities.
  2. Having in the past wanted to be involved in church things (which made (1) above hurt) I found that, as I had become more confident as I grew older, not only did I not generally feel any strong desire to get closely involved, but my need for personal space in a religious context grew.
  3. The Third Order became more bureaucratic, and politically correct, and I left it.
  4. I had previously attended Communion every Sunday, at the same church except when away, but I detached from that; my emphasis on the Eucharist remains, but sometimes I pray at home instead, because I can concentrate more on God without other people around.

[John's Christianity page]
John C. G. Sturdy

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