I would like to invite you on a journey with me. A journey we’ll call “Finding Faith.”
Now, I don’t want to imply that I am at present searching for my own faith, as I feel very fortunate that I’ve never experienced more confidence in my own faith than I do now. Nor, do I promise that on this journey together do I presume that I can help anyone else find their own faith. For that is a grand mystery that I don’t presume to know the answer to, and so it is a hubris that I just don’t possess.
However, it is my hope that we can explore faith together. And for some that might mean digging deeper into our faiths. For others that might mean just trying to figure out what faith means. And for still others, this journey might just serve as fodder for their scientific arguments that those fanciful “God believers” just will never learn. But I’ll leave all of that up for you to sort out.
So, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself here. … First, how about an introduction?
My name is Devlyn Brooks. How do you do? More recently I actually became The Rev. Devlyn Brooks after completing my master’s of divinity at Luther Seminary and becoming an ordained minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. I also was installed as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota, after having served there for the past four years as a synodically authorized minister, under the supervision of our synod’s bishop until I could obtain my own ordination.
Don’t worry, if you didn’t understand a word of all that church jargon, it’s OK! You are in good company!
My aim is to, in the coming weeks and months, explore with you what all of that means. In addition to diving into a whole lot of other faith-related stories, topics and issues as well.
So why do I use the term “faith” versus “religion” or “spirituality”? Great question!
For me it’s a personal choice as, frankly, I think the Big “R” word scares many off, or has done so much damage to so many people for decades, if not centuries, that it is not helpful. As for “spirituality,” for some it connotes a “new-agey” feel that seems demeaning of their beliefs.
So I settle on talking to people about their faith. Because everyone has faith in something. It might not be the same Christian God in which I have faith. But they have faith in something, for certain. And so, as a pastor, I see that as a middle ground. If we are going to have a thoughtful and intelligent conversation about what we believe in, it should begin with the fact that we all have something in which we each have faith. Right?
Finally, how does one who has practiced journalism for 30 years go from writing “All we want are the facts ma’am” to writing a column about faith? I suppose the easy answer is that when I pursued my journalism career out of college there was, at its base, a desire to seek out the truth, to fight for justice and to impact people’s lives for the better. I see that my call to become a pastor in the Lutheran church 30 years later was based on the same three desires, albeit seeing them in an entirely new light.
Full disclosure: A theologian, I am not. I am not Martin Luther. Nor any of the long line of theologians that have dug into the mysteries of faith for the past two millennia. Let’s get that straight from the outset.
I went to seminary with a pastor’s heart, and came out of seminary with a love of parish ministry. I love serving the people of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton. And so where I lack the academic credentials to be considered an expert in theology, I believe that I am very busy earning my credentials to write as a pastor. My church, the ELCA, describes a pastor as one called to “serve with active, courageous faith to offer the hope of the sacraments and to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ in congregations and other ministry settings.”
That is where I will be coming from writing this column. I would call this another “ministry setting,” and yet I vow to never use this space as a bully pulpit for religious conversion. I don’t feel that is my call, nor do I believe that will serve as particularly fruitful for any of us.
I do, however, hope that we can enjoy this faith journey together. Whether it’s talking about issues that intersect various faith traditions, or telling the story of the many faith communities here in the region, or sharing a moving faith experience I’ve had, I hope this space can become one of sharing, one of learning, one of growth for all of us.
So how about it? Are you willing to come on this journey of faith with me? I’d be thrilled if you are!
Devlyn Brooks, who works for Modulist, a Forum Communications Co.-owned company, is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Church of America. He serves as pastor of Faith Lutheran Church in Wolverton, Minnesota. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and story ideas.