Skip to comments.Faith Journey Leads United Methodist from Pastorate to Catholic Priesthood
Posted on 03/24/2009 2:23:12 PM PDT by Titanites
As he progressed from Methodist Youth Fellowship member to active layperson to ordained minister, Scott Medlock seemed destined for lifelong service in the United Methodist Church.
But Medlock, an Orlando, Fla., native, has had a dual faith journey. The second journey started during his undergraduate years at the University of Notre Dame, intensified with his marriage to a "cradle Catholic" and eventually led to a desire for a more "eucharistically-centered" faith experience.
On March 19, the 41-year-old former United Methodist pastor was ordained a Roman Catholic deacon. On July 26, in Anchorage, Alaska, he will be ordained a priest.
Along the way, he has garnered support from both sides. Roman Catholic Archbishop Francis T. Hurley of Anchorage, who supervised Medlock's preparation for the priesthood, told United Methodist News Service he is "a very fine teacher and a very bright fellow."
United Methodist Bishop Joseph Yeakel, who had served as Medlock's bishop in the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional) Conference, said he considered him a "quality person" who handled his struggle over leaving the United Methodist Church with integrity.
Medlock stressed that while he now identifies himself "fully as a Catholic," part of his heart remains behind.
"I really have a deep love of the Methodist Church and that has not been lost," he explained. "It's impossible to express how much the faith of my (United Methodist) parishioners ... nourished my own faith and helped me grow in the love of Christ."
That faith was nurtured in a Methodist congregation his great-grandparents had helped establish. By the time he was a high school senior, however, Medlock was "beginning to question everything about what I believed."
The "thriving faith among students on campus" at the University of Notre Dame helped draw him back to Christianity as he studied there from 1973-77. He began attending Mass with his roommates.
In retrospect, Medlock credits the experience of the Mass, being at Notre Dame and meeting his wife as "the three most important influences" in his embrace of the Catholic faith. He and his wife, Maria Elena, were married in 1978 by the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, who was then Notre Dame's president.
At that point, his ties to Methodism still remained strong. He returned to Orlando for three years, working as a stockbroker and an active member of First United Methodist Church. Then, from 1980-83, he attended Notre Dame's law school. With guidance from a local United Methodist minister, he began the process toward ordination.
Simultaneously, Medlock struck a close friendship with a devout Catholic and law professor, Bob Rhodes. "He said, 'I think that some day you're going to have to become a Catholic' ... and ended up talking with me about the Catholic faith in a way that no one had talked to me before," he recalled.
But he still felt more Protestant than Catholic. He attended Duke University Divinity School and served several "wonderful congregations" in Maryland.
Eventually, Medlock found it was no longer possible for him to maintain a bridge between his Wesleyan faith and the broader Roman Catholic tradition.
In the fall of 1991, he returned to Notre Dame and consulted with Rhodes. He encouraged Medlock to speak to Hesburgh, who was supportive and told his story to Hurley.
According to Hurley, the precedent to consider married pastors from another denomination for the priesthood was set around 1980 when the Episcopalian Church began ordaining women. Some male priests who opposed those ordinations petitioned the Vatican to accept them into the Catholic faith.
Because celibacy is a church-made law, according to the archbishop, exceptions can be granted. To his knowledge, Medlock is the third United Methodist pastor "who has gone this route."
Three full years of preparation are required under the guidance of a sponsoring bishop. Hurley's first test was to invite the Medlocks to Alaska in January 1992 to see if they could make the transition to its harsh climate.
Medlock admitted that moving to Anchorage "was the biggest leap we've ever taken." He said that giving up his pastoral calling in the Protestant church without the guarantee of being accepted ultimately by Rome was "like putting Isaac on the altar." But today Medlock, his wife and their three children -- Aaron and Matthew, who will be 13 and 11 in June, and Angela, who is 8 -- have no regrets.
"The eucharistically-centered faith vision of the Catholic Church ... is truly where my faith has come," he said.
Do I dare post what is on my mind? Better not. I’ll just sum it up... Satan has a smile on his face...
You really should purge those thoughts making Satan smile.
I'm sure Jesus shares your sentiments. /sarc
Yes, I know my anti-Catholic bias was very evident.
“Bias” is a soft euphemism.
I agree with you, everytime a snide little remark is made, everytime a holier-than-thou whatever just can’t keep from typing out that snide remark and everyone is made to feel the tenseness and unpleasantness of that person, everytime some self-proclaimed know-it-all can’t stand to walk away without a sneering reply, Satan surely smiles.
May God bless you.
So what is it you hold against me, brother?
God bless this former pastor — now priest.
Why would you say such a thing? Isn’t it time for you to investigate the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church? The first church?
Until you do, I’m afraid those smiles are meant for you and your persecution attitude.
Hit the road.
It is an interesting story. I'd appreciate you adding it to your list. Thanks.
Put some salve on it, Alex.
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I, too, am a United Methodist Minister...an ordained elder of many years now. Leaving all the differences aside, I’m surprised at this happening. While I have a friend who went from the UMC to the Episcopal Church, and then would have been eligible for the Roman Catholic priesthood, I had always been told that a direct route was not possible for a Methodist pastor due to the history of our episcopacy and polity.
This is surprising. As I read it, the pastor finished seminary for the Methodists, pastored a while for the Methodists, and then became a deacon with the Catholics, and with 3 years (?) guidance (whatever that means) he is being ordained a Roman Catholic priest.
I wonder why he’s going to Alaska? Could it be due to the Orthodox acceptance of married priests would not have him stand out as all that unusual?
Just thoughts, and none of them designed to be offensive, Titanites. To be honest with you, the United Methodist Church is actively hostile to the Roman Catholic Church in so many ways: ordained females + female bishops, acceptance of abortion at the highest levels, a belief in the reimagining of Christian doctrine for new ages, and most importantly in my mind, a symbolic view of the eucharist by liberal pastors. Add to that a “low church” liturgy compared to Catholicism, and I just don’t see how my former opinion could have been so wrong.
Titan, please understand that even though the above paragraph represents the broad UMC, it is not an indication of my own beliefs. I am a far more conservative, biblical Christian.