I was raised by loving parents who were not involved in a church and did not actively share the faith with me, but who in some way believed in God and followed Christian ethical principles. As a young child I was deeply impressed by visits to cathedrals, and during my teenage years the Lord was drawing my heart through His creation and through poetry and music. My schools held annual Christmas carol services, and daily morning assemblies that included a hymn and a prayer and sometimes Bible readings and reflections. Religious education lessons included some Biblical stories and topics, and my secondary school choir exposed me to more. As an organist I participated in school chapel services and substituted in various churches.
While studying music at university I attended a performance of a musical drama about the three young men who were delivered from the furnace in the book of Daniel, and received the revelation that was God was real and that He wanted to intervene in my life personally. Encouraged by a Christian friend, I heard the Gospel through a series of evangelistic meetings, where I was touched by the revelation of God’s love and acceptance and convinced by the evidence for the resurrection that the Christian faith is true. I prayed the “Sinner’s Prayer”, started attending an evangelical church, reading the Bible, and participating in the university Christian Union, and began to surrender my life to the Lord.
Yet the Bible seemed hard to understand, prayer seemed dry, and I struggled with doubts. I began attending a charismatic church where I received the baptism of the Spirit and the gift of tongues, and later the sacrament of Baptism. My relationship with God then became a personal reality: I experienced His presence on a daily basis, and the Scriptures became increasingly alive to me. After university I joined an independent evangelical charismatic church, attended various meetings and conferences, and devoted myself to seeking Him more.
Before then my exposure to the faith had always been in the Anglican Church, and I had sensed that there was something valuable in the liturgy although I had not understood it. I felt uncomfortable at times with the informality and lack of reverence in the church I had joined, which paid little attention to tradition or the liturgical calendar – although one of the pastors was reading Catholic books, and his approach helped me to be open-minded. Now when I visited Anglican churches from time to time I began to experience the liturgy as an expression of truth that added depth to my faith, understanding and worship. The priest where I practised the organ also encouraged me to be open to other parts of the body of Christ.
In response to God’s calling I attended an interdenominational seminary in the USA. For a year I served as organist in a Baptist church, but my spiritual hunger was not satisfied. I visited a charismatic church but felt that something was missing there as well. Around that time I was studying Church history and the spirituality of the early monastics, reading books by Catholic and Orthodox as well as Protestant authors, and was attracted to the idea of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When I was invited to an ICCEC mass, I sensed that it was where I belonged. I discovered a fullness in worship and authority in government, and a witness in my spirit that this was an authentic expression of the ancient Church and Faith. Through the liturgy, sacraments and consensus government, God has given me balance, stability and accountability that I lacked before.
I am thankful for all that God has done, and amazed at how He has guided me in many different ways, and yet with one clear purpose, in this journey of convergence. It does not end there: I have not fully arrived yet, and I have hardly begun to explore the spiritual riches with which God has blessed His people over thousands of years. As a musician especially, I sense His calling to bring forth from the storehouse treasures both old and new, and to be part of His creative work in this area in accordance with what He is doing among us.
WHY I HAVE REMAINED IN THE ICCEC?
Many people have left the ICCEC, including a number of clergy, and at times I have been tempted to do so. By God’s grace I have remained, firstly because I believe in the vision that He has given this Church and that it is where He has called me to be, and because I vowed to serve as a deacon according its canons and the guidance of my bishop. Secondly, my wife is committed to the ICCEC and asked for a husband from the same church, and it is my spiritual family with whom God has knit me together. If I were to leave I would not know where to go, and it would hurt others as well as myself.
We have a long way to go to become fully charismatic, evangelical and liturgical-sacramental, to make visible the Kingdom of God to the nations of the world, and to serve the least, the lost and the lonely. We are still learning the process of consensus government and growing in defending the sanctity of human life. We are an imperfect Church and imperfect people, but it is God who called us and is building us together. There are other convergence churches, but I would feel uncomfortable about some of the differences. The ICCEC is where God has called and planted me.
by: Deacon Andrew Gossage – London, England