Ryon Price is the pastor of a small American Baptist church in Colchester, Vermont. I’ve been going back and reading his blog for a few weeks now, pilfering through an assortment of biographical reflections that sound strangely familiar.
As a graduate of Duke Divinity School and a Baptist of the mainline tradition, Rev. Price thinks differently than most of my fellow seminarians who drank from the Southern Baptist well. He’s more speculative, which gives his blog a sense of humility. He’s more reflective, which gives his blog the ability to challenge. And along the way, he’s learned a little something about racial reconciliation that would cause too many Southern Baptists to bristle.
Read his Ordination Council Paper for starters, and to whet your appetite here’s the money quote:
Sadly, modern assumptions about the self and the primacy of the individual have done much to diminish our understanding of what the church is. The church has become something like a club where like-minded peoples gather and worship and then freely disassociate themselves from the fellowship when times and circumstances warrant. It was this kind of misconception on my part which allowed me to break from the church when doubt began to cast its long shadow over my life.
Then go read the essay on the church where he pastors. Again, the money quote:
Much has changed since the Baptists and Congregationalists first dreamed of building themselves a church in the early 19th century. The moose in these parts have disappeared. And so have the log huts. The poverty, though not completely eliminated, is much diminished.
But for all that has changed about the context of our ministry, one thing remains the same. We are still working to create a place where others can come and find grace. That is what it meant to be church when the brick building went up in 1838; and that is what it continues to mean all these many years later.
In that sense you might say we are still building the “brick church.” There are still no blue prints. We only have the dreams of those who came before us. And our dreams as well. And faith that someone knows what the heck they are doing.