A Faith Journey
Fr. Troy C. Beecham
My faith journey began as it does for so many of us, through the faith journey of my family. My family are deeply faithful Christians. I was raised not only in weekly attendance on Sunday for worship, but also in understanding myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ, with the mission of sharing the love of God with my whole life. My great-grandparents were traveling evangelists and church planters before settling in Atlanta. My parents helped to start two congregations in our home over the course of my young life, by providing a worship space as well as the space for mid-week worship, Bible study, and supper. We hosted missionaries on furlough. We also were raised reaching out to the local community, in adopting local elderly folks who could no longer go shopping for groceries, used clothing drives, and school lunches for children from poorer families.
As a young adult, I felt a sense of vocation to ordained ministry. I had a great desire to serve as a foreign missionary, specifically as a Bible translator. I enrolled in an undergraduate theological school, earning a first degree in theology and Biblical studies in 1991. I spent four years assisting as a youth pastor, and spent my summers on missions, including Israel and Tanzania, where I contracted malaria. Partly as a result of malaria, I began a period of discernment about vocation. I decided to pursue further education, with the goal of becoming a seminary professor. I had also begun to experience a deep call to a more ancient Church tradition, rooted in the early Church’s teaching and liturgy. I was in my first year of a Master’s degree, living in Jerusalem, when I was re-introduced as a young adult to the Anglican Church, and I knew that I had found a spiritual home. I was received into the Episcopal Church 1994 after I had returned to the United States, and immediately began the process of discerning Holy Orders as a priest.
That began a long journey, which culminated in going to the General Theological Seminary in New York City as a doctoral student in theology in 2001. The first day of classes was 11 September 2001, a day that will live forever in our memories. That experience initiated another period of discernment for me, in which I heard the Lord calling me into parish ministry rather than being a seminary professor. The following year I graduated a second Master’s degree in theology, and was ordained a priest in 2003, beginning my first cure as the Rector of a small parish in Augusta, Georgia. For the next decade, I served as Rector of three parishes, all of them deeply affected by the ongoing struggles of our Church, as well as struggling with dwindling numbers and aging parishioners. Without having a sabbatical in eleven years of full-time ministry, I decided in August 2013 that I needed a period of restoration and rest, and so I resigned my parish. I was invited to test a religious vocation with the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, an Episcopal religious order of men in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
After nearly six months of life in the monastery, I again felt the call of the Spirit to return to parish ministry. I know that the Lord is already preparing me for a parish community, and they for me, to continue as faithful disciples of our Lord, sharing his love with the world.