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Old 12-07-2010, 09:53 AM
Loretohouse's Avatar
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Default Why Protestant ministers convert to Catholicism

It takes real courage to be a Protestant minister and address your congregation with the news "I am converting to Catholicism". It is common for Pastors to change denominations within Protestantism and experience very little criticism or a change in financial security. To convert to Catholicism is quite another story that takes great courage since many pastors will lose their job and security.

There have been hundreds of Pastors over the last 20 years who have made that leap of faith. One Presbyterian minister who came home to Rome formed a support group to help Pastors on their journey. His name is Marcus Grodi and he formed the Coming Home Network. There are hundreds of stories that are worth your time to read if you are seeking the truth. Go to CHNetwork.org


Verses I never saw

by Marcus Grodi


One of the more commonly shared experiences of Protestant converts to the Catholic Church is the discovery of verses “we never saw.” Even after years of studying, preaching, and teaching the Bible, sometimes from cover to cover, all of a sudden a verse “we never saw” appears as if by magic and becomes an “Aha!” mind-opening, life-altering messenger of spiritual “doom”! Sometimes it’s just recognizing an alternate, clearer meaning of a familiar verse, but often, as with some of the verses mentioned below, it literally seems as if some Catholic had snuck in during the night and somehow put that verse there in the text!
The list of these surprise verses is endless, depending especially on a convert’s former religious tradition, but the following are a few key verses that turned my heart toward home. This article is a reprint from the topic I covered on the July 31, 2006 broadcast of The Journey Home on EWTN.

1. Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Ever since my adult re-awakening (read “born-again experience”) at age 21, this Proverb has been my “life verse.” It rang true as a guide for all aspects of my life and ministry, but then during my nine years as a Presbyterian minister, I became desperately frustrated by the confusion of Protestantism. I loved Jesus and believed that the Word of God was the one trustworthy, infallible rule of faith. But so did lots of the non-Presbyterian ministers and laymen I knew: Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Pentecostals, Congregationalists, etc., etc., etc . . . The problem was that we all came up with different conclusions, sometimes radically different, from the same verses. How does one “trust in the Lord with all your heart”? How can you make sure your not “leaning on your own understanding”? We all had different opinions and lists of requirements. A verse I had always trusted suddenly became nebulous, immeasurable, and unreachable.

2. 1 Timothy 3: 14-15
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.
Scott Hahn pulled this one on me. “So, Marc, what is the pillar and foundation of truth?” I answered, “The Bible, of course.” “Oh yeah? But what does the Bible say?” “What do you mean?” When he told me to look up this verse, I suspected nothing. I had taught and preached through First Timothy many times. But when I read this verse, it was as if it had suddenly appeared from nowhere, and my jaw dropped. The Church!? Not the Bible? This alone sent my mind and essentially my whole life reeling; the question of which Church was one I was not ready to broach.

3. 2 Timothy 3:14-17
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Verses 16-17 were the texts I and others had always turned to buttress our belief in sola Scriptura, so to this I quickly turned my attention. Among many things, three important things became very clear, for the first time: (1) when Paul used the term “scripture” in this verse, he could only have meant when we call the Old Testament. The New Testament canon would not be established for another 300 years! (2) “All” scripture does not mean “only” scripture nor specifically what we have in our modern bibles. And (3), the emphasis in the context of this verse (vereses 14-15) is the trustworthiness of the oral tradition Timothy had received from his mother and others—not sola Scriptura!

4. 2 Thessalonians 2:15
So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.
This was another “too-hot-to-handle” verse Scott threw in my lap. The traditions (Dare I say, traditions) that these early Christian were to hold fast to were not just the written letters and Gospels that would eventually make up the New Testament, but the oral tradition. And even more significant, the context of Paul’s letters indicates that his normal, preferred way of passing along “what he had received” was orally; his written letters were an accidental, sometimes unplanned add-on, dealing with immediate problems—leaving unsaid so much of what they had learned through oral teaching.

5. Matthew 16:13-19
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesare’a Philip’pi, he asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Eli’jah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
There is so much to discuss in this verse, so much I never saw. I always knew that Catholics used this to argue Petrine authority but I wasn’t convinced. To the naively ignorant, the English words “Peter” and “rock” are so different that it’s obvious that Jesus was referring to the faith Simon Peter received as a gift from the Father. For the more informed seminary educated Bible students, like myself, I knew that behind the English was the Greek, where one discovered that Peter is the translation of petros, meaning little pebble, and rock is the translation of petra, large boulder. Again an obvious disconnect, so so for years I believed and taught specifically against Petrine authority. Then, through the reading of Karl Keating’s wonderful book, Catholicism and Fundamentalism, I realized the implications of something I knew all along: behind the Greek was the Aramaic which Jesus originally spoke, in which the word for Peter and rock are identical—kepha. Once I saw that Jesus had said essentially “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my Church,” I knew I was in trouble.

6. Revelation 14:13
And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord henceforth." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"
For years, as a Calvinist preacher, I recited this verse in every funeral graveside service. I believed and taught sola fide and discounting any place for works in the process of our salvation. But then, after my last funeral service as a minister, a family member of the deceased cornered me. He asked, with a tremble in his voice, “What did you mean that Bill’s deeds follow him?” I don’t remember my response, but this was the first time I became aware of what I had been saying. This began a long study on what the New Testament and then the Early Church Fathers taught about the mysterious but necessary synergistic connection between our faith and our works.

7. Romans 10:14-15
But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?
I had always used these verses to defend the central importance of preaching and why I, therefore, had given up my engineering career for seminary and the great privilege of becoming a preacher of the Gospel! And I was never bothered by the last phrase about the need of being “sent,” because I could point to my ordination where a cackle of local ministers, elders, deacons, and laymen laid their hands on my sweaty head to send me forth in the Name of Jesus. But then, first through my reading of the history and writings of the Early Church Fathers and second through my re-reading of the scriptural context of Paul’s letters, I realized that Paul emphasized the necessity of being “sent” because the occasion of his letters was to combat the negative, heretical influences of self-appointed false teachers. I had never thought of myself as a false teacher, but by what authority did those people send me forth? Who sent them? In this I realized the importance of Apostolic [those who have been sent] succession.

8. John 15:4 and 6:56
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.

He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
The book of the Bible I most preached on was the Gospel of John and my most preached on section John 15, the analogy of the vine and the branches. I bombarded my congregations with the need to “abide” or “remain” in Christ. But what does this mean? I always had an answer, but when I saw “for the first time” the only verse where Jesus himself defines clearly what we must do to abide in Him, I was floored. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” This led me to study a boatload of verses in John 6 “I had never seen before,” and in the end, when it came accepting Jesus at His word on the Eucharist, I had only one answer: “Where else can we go? Only you have the words of life.”

9. Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.
I don’t know if I purposely avoided this or just blindly missed it, but for the first 40-years of my life I never saw this verse. And to be honest, when I finally saw it, I still didn’t know what to do with it. Nothing in my Lutheran, Congregationalist, or Presbyterian backgrounds helped me understand how I or anyone could rejoice in suffering, and especially why anything was needed to complete the suffering of Christ: nothing was lacking! Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection were sufficient and complete! To say anything less was to attack the omnipotent completeness of God’s sovereign grace. But then again, this was the apostle Paul speaking in inerrant, infallible Scripture. And we were to imitate him as he imitated Jesus. It took a reading of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on the meaning of suffering to open my eyes to the beautiful mystery of redemptive suffering.

10. Luke 1:46-49
“And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.’”
Finally the hardest hurdle for so many Protestant converts to get over: our Blessed Mother Mary. For most of my life, the only place Mary came into the picture was at Christmas—and dare I say, as a statue! But I never referred to her as “blessed.” Yet Scripture says all generations will call her blessed. Why wasn’t I? This led me to see other verses for the first time, including John 17 where from the cross Jesus giave his mother into the keeping of John, rather than any supposed siblings, and by grace I began, in imitation of my Lord and Savior and eternal brother Jesus, to recognize her, too, as my loving Mother.

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Last edited by Loretohouse : 12-07-2010 at 10:13 AM. Reason: miss spell
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:07 AM
CatholicCrusader
 
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

.

Sometimes hearing it from the horse's mouth is the best thing of all. Here is an old OP I posted over in the "Testimonials" section:

Quote:
Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
Many of you have heard me mention Scott Hahn before. When I was in my non-church-going phase years ago, a cassette tape by Scott Hahn really sparked the beginning of my return to God. Well, I finally found an mp3 of that tape online:

LINK: http://ewtn.edgeboss.net/download/ew...brary/tw05.mp3

Its a great testimony. I hope somebody else out there finds it as interesting as I did.
For the new folks here, out of all the ministers that have converted, Scott Hahn is sort of the poster child. His story is pretty interesteing. He was an admitted staunch anti-Catholic who went on the become a Presbyterian pastor and teacher. But now he is not only a Catholic but is also Professor of Scripture & Theology at Franciscan University in Steubanville. The above link is to an mp3 file. I highly recommend that people listen to it, not because I am trying to convert you, but just because it is a very engaging talk that would give everyone much to ponder.
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:11 AM
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

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Originally Posted by CatholicCrusader View Post
.

Sometimes hearing it from the horse's mouth is the best thing of all. Here is an old OP I posted over in the "Testimonials" section:



For the new folks here, out of all the ministers that have converted, Scott Hahn is sort of the poster child. His story is pretty interesteing. He was an admitted staunch anti-Catholic who went on the become a Presbyterian pastor and teacher. But now he is not only a Catholic but is also Professor of Scripture & Theology at Franciscan University in Steubanville. The above link is to an mp3 file. I highly recommend that people listen to it, not because I am trying to convert you, but just because it is a very engaging talk that would give everyone much to ponder.
There is a great video of Scott Hahn at SMU debating the "Foremost" Protestant apologist...I forget his name, but anyway I will locate the info on that and post since it is good stuff!
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Old 12-07-2010, 10:37 AM
Josiah
 
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

Loretohouse -

In the past 500 years or so, what percentage of the world's Protestant pastors/priests have converted to Catholicism and what percentage of the world's Catholic priests have converted to Protestantism?


Yes, it takes "courage" to convert. Have you ever converted?


Yes, for ministers, it often takes more. Catholic priests are entirely connected to their denomination - quite literally for everything in life, until death. Leaving has enormous practical consequences. Of course, the issue of marriage makes the reverse complicated, too. TODAY, I suspect the percentage of ministers crossing TO or FROM your denomination is not in any sense significant - happens, but rarely in terms of percentages. I suspect the percentage of "converts" historically has been FAR more from Catholic TO Protestant but I don't have the data for that at hand, just my estimation given the European history I studied in college.

For laity, it's easier. About half of those in my Lutheran congregation are former Catholics (including the pastor). We "left" for theological reasons. I've largely given my story here - and I won't repeat it. It seems common. But we do have some in our congregation where there was a mixed marriage - Catholic and Protestant - and they ended up Lutheran. But even those Catholics typically "left" Catholicism quite willingly based on theological issues. Of course, many Catholics TECHICALLY stay but have actually left the Catholic Church, nearly all the Catholics known to ME fall into that category. When I discussed my possible departure with my priest, I told him of my theological issues but added, "I probably agree with Catholicism at least 95% of the time" (a point he realized is true). His verbatim response to me was: "Josiah - that's a whole lot better than most Catholics!" You know he's right about that. See, I couldn't live the lie, I couldn't imply one thing what actually was a falsehood. For me, leaving was a matter of integrity and honesty. I read once that there are THIRTY MILLION of us in the USA alone, 10% of the entire US population - former Catholics. SADLY, many just leave any real connection to Christianity at all. Fortunately, some eventually embrace conservative, traditional forms of Protestantism, as I did. I like the liturgical, Sacramental, pro-life emphasis. But I also like the embrace of humility, community and accountability, the emphasis on Christ rather than the denomination, the emphasis on truth rather than submission to self. But that's MY journey - it's not yours. Journeys is NOT what this site is about, TRUTH is what we are here to pursue, TRUTH in doctrine. But read on....

Converting requires more than guts, however, my unseparated brother. It requires the admission and embrace that I could be WRONG. This is what keeps Catholics in the RCC, IMHO. Right and wrong are not issues there, submission to the denomination is. As The Handbook of The Catholic Faith so powerfully and accurately puts it, "When the Catholic is asked what is the substantiation for his faith, the correct answer is: from the teaching authority of The Catholic Church. This consists of the Catholic Pope, the successor of Peter, and the bishops in communion with him. The Catholic is thus freed from the typically Protestant issue of "is it true" and instead rests in quiet submission to The Catholic Church because when it speaks, Jesus speaks. Jesus himself said to the Church, 'whoever hears you hears me'." (page 136) In that mileau, the issue of truth or correctness is simply "off the radar" and the issue instead is the authority that the RCC alone claims for the RCC alone, and the "submission" it alone requires to it alone. As the Handbook says, the Catholic is "freed" from the issue of whether teachings are correct, "instead" he just quietly, docilicly "submits" as unto God. Or as This Rock put it (in a quote from our friend here CatholicCrusader), "the mere fact that the Catholic Church says it IS the guarentee of its correctness." That's as close as Catholicism gets to the "typically Protestant issue of 'is it true'." THIS, in my humble opinion, is the great divide. We talk past each other because non-Catholics are focused on truth and the RCC is focused on the authority of itself and the need for quiet submission to it. Before the Catholic can even BEGIN to consider leaving, he/she must cease to be Catholic by leaving the foundational point of Catholicism: quiet, docilic submission of self to it alone, not embracing the 'typically Protestant issue of is it true' but 'instead, rests in quiet submission to The Catholic Church because when it speaks, Jesus speaks. Jesus himself said to the Church, 'whoever hears you hears me'." IMHO, one must leave the CC and this foundational point before it is even theoretically POSSIBLE to disagree with any of its doctrines. He must disagree with the bottom line of Catholicism, "the mere fact that the RCC says it IS the guarentee that it is true." Are you willing to embrace the RCC could be wrong in its formal, official teachings? If not, then it's not even theoretically possible for you to come to the conclusion that it is and not possible to "leave." One who rejects that has left already - even if they continue to attend Mass every week.



That's my perspective.


Pax


- Josiah






.
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:24 AM
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josiah View Post
Loretohouse -

In the past 500 years or so, what percentage of the world's Protestant pastors/priests have converted to Catholicism and what percentage of the world's Catholic priests have converted to Protestantism?


Yes, it takes "courage" to convert. Have you ever converted?


Yes, for ministers, it often takes more. Catholic priests are entirely connected to their denomination - quite literally for everything in life, until death. Leaving has enormous practical consequences. Of course, the issue of marriage makes the reverse complicated, too. TODAY, I suspect the percentage of ministers crossing TO or FROM your denomination is not in any sense significant - happens, but rarely in terms of percentages. I suspect the percentage of "converts" historically has been FAR more from Catholic TO Protestant but I don't have the data for that at hand, just my estimation given the European history I studied in college.

For laity, it's easier. About half of those in my Lutheran congregation are former Catholics (including the pastor). We "left" for theological reasons. I've largely given my story here - and I won't repeat it. It seems common. But we do have some in our congregation where there was a mixed marriage - Catholic and Protestant - and they ended up Lutheran. But even those Catholics typically "left" Catholicism quite willingly based on theological issues. Of course, many Catholics TECHICALLY stay but have actually left the Catholic Church, nearly all the Catholics known to ME fall into that category. When I discussed my possible departure with my priest, I told him of my theological issues but added, "I probably agree with Catholicism at least 95% of the time" (a point he realized is true). His verbatim response to me was: "Josiah - that's a whole lot better than most Catholics!" You know he's right about that. See, I couldn't live the lie, I couldn't imply one thing what actually was a falsehood. For me, leaving was a matter of integrity and honesty. I read once that there are THIRTY MILLION of us in the USA alone, 10% of the entire US population - former Catholics. SADLY, many just leave any real connection to Christianity at all. Fortunately, some eventually embrace conservative, traditional forms of Protestantism, as I did. I like the liturgical, Sacramental, pro-life emphasis. But I also like the embrace of humility, community and accountability, the emphasis on Christ rather than the denomination, the emphasis on truth rather than submission to self. But that's MY journey - it's not yours. Journeys is NOT what this site is about, TRUTH is what we are here to pursue, TRUTH in doctrine. But read on....

Converting requires more than guts, however, my unseparated brother. It requires the admission and embrace that I could be WRONG. This is what keeps Catholics in the RCC, IMHO. Right and wrong are not issues there, submission to the denomination is. As The Handbook of The Catholic Faith so powerfully and accurately puts it, "When the Catholic is asked what is the substantiation for his faith, the correct answer is: from the teaching authority of The Catholic Church. This consists of the Catholic Pope, the successor of Peter, and the bishops in communion with him. The Catholic is thus freed from the typically Protestant issue of "is it true" and instead rests in quiet submission to The Catholic Church because when it speaks, Jesus speaks. Jesus himself said to the Church, 'whoever hears you hears me'." (page 136) In that mileau, the issue of truth or correctness is simply "off the radar" and the issue instead is the authority that the RCC alone claims for the RCC alone, and the "submission" it alone requires to it alone. As the Handbook says, the Catholic is "freed" from the issue of whether teachings are correct, "instead" he just quietly, docilicly "submits" as unto God. Or as This Rock put it (in a quote from our friend here CatholicCrusader), "the mere fact that the Catholic Church says it IS the guarentee of its correctness." That's as close as Catholicism gets to the "typically Protestant issue of 'is it true'." THIS, in my humble opinion, is the great divide. We talk past each other because non-Catholics are focused on truth and the RCC is focused on the authority of itself and the need for quiet submission to it. Before the Catholic can even BEGIN to consider leaving, he/she must cease to be Catholic by leaving the foundational point of Catholicism: quiet, docilic submission of self to it alone, not embracing the 'typically Protestant issue of is it true' but 'instead, rests in quiet submission to The Catholic Church because when it speaks, Jesus speaks. Jesus himself said to the Church, 'whoever hears you hears me'." IMHO, one must leave the CC and this foundational point before it is even theoretically POSSIBLE to disagree with any of its doctrines. He must disagree with the bottom line of Catholicism, "the mere fact that the RCC says it IS the guarentee that it is true." Are you willing to embrace the RCC could be wrong in its formal, official teachings? If not, then it's not even theoretically possible for you to come to the conclusion that it is and not possible to "leave." One who rejects that has left already - even if they continue to attend Mass every week.



That's my perspective.


Pax


- Josiah






.
Marcus Grodi has a wonderful program on EWTN for those of you who are seeking and on your journey. He interviews ministers who share their reasons for coming home to Rome. Great stuff.
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Old 12-07-2010, 11:41 AM
CatholicCrusader
 
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

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Originally Posted by Loretohouse View Post
Marcus Grodi has a wonderful program on EWTN for those of you who are seeking and on your journey. He interviews ministers who share their reasons for coming home to Rome. Great stuff.
Link: The Journey Home | Eternal Word Television Network
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Old 12-07-2010, 12:59 PM
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

In the UK & Ireland there is a society called the St. Barnabus Society which "exists to provide pastoral and financial help on behalf of the whole Catholic community to former clergy ministers and religious from other churches, who live in Great Britain and Ireland, and who have been led by faith and conscience to come into full communion with the Catholic Church."

As it points out many of them lose not only their jobs but their homes also. Ex priests may have families to support. Ex religious will have no possessions. Add to that they may not have been trained for anything else and find it difficult to get jobs.

It's a big and courageous step.
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It isn't learned talk that saves man or makes a saint of him; only a life well lived can claim God's friendship. (Thomas À Kempis)
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:12 PM
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Default Re: Why Prortestant ministers convert to Catholicism

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Originally Posted by winsome View Post
In the UK & Ireland there is a society called the St. Barnabus Society which "exists to provide pastoral and financial help on behalf of the whole Catholic community to former clergy ministers and religious from other churches, who live in Great Britain and Ireland, and who have been led by faith and conscience to come into full communion with the Catholic Church."

As it points out many of them lose not only their jobs but their homes also. Ex priests may have families to support. Ex religious will have no possessions. Add to that they may not have been trained for anything else and find it difficult to get jobs.

It's a big and courageous step.
Also, If they are called to preaching they can not just transfer in and be a Priest (with the exception of some Anglicans). Imagine the loss of your ministry as a man trying to follow God. Even if they want to be a Deacon that takes 5 years.

Most people are unaware that it takes about 8-9 years to be ordained a Priest compared to as little as a couple of weeks to get ordained as a non denominational pastor on line.

My hat is off to those courageous men.
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