A brief update!

Copyright 2013 Gregg Webb

Copyright 2013 Gregg Webb

Almost two weeks ago I began a three year Master of Arts in Counseling program at Covenant Seminary here in St. Louis. It’s a seminary in the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) one of the more conservative Presbyterian groups. My father received his Mdiv from the same seminary over 35 years while he was still a member of the PCA. I’ve been blessed to know several friends from my undergraduate who attend as well as several alumni who are now Eastern Orthodox. The school is known for their counseling program in particular and has provided St. Louis and many other cities with hundreds of gifted counselors. I knew going in that It would be a challenge interacting and engaging with a reformed protestant theology on a daily basis as an Eastern Orthodox believer. However, I truly believe that God has used my time in an Evangelical Presbyterian campus ministry to help prepare me for these next few years as well as my parent’s long history in the same community.

I am very blessed to attend school with many Godly men and women who are all seeking to dedicate their life to serving Christ. The professors have a deep, deep love for their students and for scripture and their pastoral care runs deeply throughout the school. In addition to the school’s foundational theology class I am also taking an Introduction to the New Testament, Intro to Counseling, and Marriage and Family Counseling. This semester I am also auditing a class on “Unholy Matrimony” which looks at various challenges to marriage. Homosexuality has already come up and I and several friends are looking forward to engaging the subject as well as a discussion of singleness with the rest of the (mostly married) class. Another perk of Covenant is its growing community of side-B Christians and the school’s welcoming, graceful and humble approach towards men and women with same-sex attractions.

I am also continuing this year to volunteer as a co-group leader with a local ministry helping to lead a men’s Same-Sex attraction support group. My involvement with the group over the last year has had a deep impact on me and I’m excited to continue learning from their stories and living life along side of them as they work through many difficult questions. It is incredible to think that I as a former member of the group am now able to now offer something back!

So as you might imagine things are pretty busy! In my free time I’m continuing to develop my friendships and community here at school in St. Louis and across the country. I hope to continue to occasionally post on here as well as at Spiritual Friendship and you can always keep up with me on Twitter! Thank you all for your prayers and support and I look forward to continuing this conversation!

In Christ,

Gregg

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Copyright 2013 Gregg Webb

We are people who enjoy comfort. It is easy to exist within a bubble where our ideas and world-views are only confirmed and never challenged. We are prone to shy away from opportunities for our own growth by allowing possible friends to remain strangers. Ideological differences are allowed to define and enforce separation often under the guise of safety. My own experience has shown that the bubble is never safe. It is far too easily ruptured when an uninvited co-worker, family member or classmate who would otherwise be an ideological object becomes a real person. When this happens we are forced to grapple with the tension that relationship creates in our lives. We must embrace a biblical calling to be “all things to all people” and by doing so understand our own convictions. It is only through relationship with others that our own understanding and faith can be fully deepened and formed.

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Exodus-International-logo-300x293There has been a great deal of hubbub about Alan Chamber’s announcement that Exodus International would be shutting down. (If you’re not familiar with Exodus International check out out my footnote on them.) I am glad to see that Alan Chambers has begun to seriously begin correcting many of the wrongs done in part by Exodus over the years. I am also glad to see that with Exodus’s closing the mainstream acceptance of reparative therapy has come to an end. Over the last five years Exodus has had an impact on my life in several ways, both negatively and positively, understandably my emotions surrounding their closure are also mixed.

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Georgia Clergy at Protest

Associated Press photo: by Shakh Aivazov

‘The one who loves me,’ says the Lord, ‘will keep my commandments’ and ‘this is my commandment, that you love one another.’ Therefore the one who does not love his neighbor is not keeping the commandment, and the one who does not keep the commandment is not able to love the Lord. -St. Maximus the Confessor*

Large crowds of anti-gay protestors gathered in the country of Georgia to disrupt a gay pride demonstration this week. Images and videos have circulated on my social networks and even one Orthodox priest on his popular blog hailed it as “taking action” to protect against the “disastrous consequences of ‘Gay Pride.’” All I can think about when I these images and read the accounts are the hundreds of same-sex attracted Georgians who have to watch their clergy, friends and families threatening to lash with stinging nettles and stones at people like them. Videos of thousands of men, women, and youth with numerous clergy mixed in show a terrifying scene. Over a dozen people were injured, mostly gay demonstrators and police. All of this makes me pause and wonder where Christ would have been in this scene.

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cebacf85cf81ceb9ceb1cebaceae-cf84cebfcf85-ceb8cf89cebcceac-2Today, the first Sunday after Pascha, the Orthodox Church celebrates St. Thomas. We remember his doubt, his touching the risen Lord, and most importantly his declaration, “You are my Lord and my God.” The hymnography for this feast commemorates both Thomas’ doubt as well as the Lord’s revelation of his resurrection in the flesh.

“Today it smells like springtime, and new creation is dancing. Today the locks are removed from the doors and the disbelief of Thomas the friend who cries out, “You are my Lord and my God.” -Exaposteilaria for Sunday of St. Thomas

“O Thomas, according to your wish, handle Me,” said Christ to him. “Put out your hand, and be cognizant that I have flesh and bones, and an earthen body. Be not one who disbelieves. But rather with the others be confident.” And he in turn cried out, “You, O Jesus, are my Lord and God, and my Savior. Glory to Your resurrection.” -Praises from the Sunday of St. Thomas

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DSC_0435 - Version 2Some of you may already know me from my posts over at Holy Protection but for those who don’t, I’m Gregg. I’m a 23-year-old from St. Louis, Missouri and have been part of the Eastern Orthodox Church since birth! I was the church poster boy when I was young. I served in the altar from the age of seven and thanks to being homeschooled attended weekday services regularly. At Sunday school and at Christian education at an Eastern Orthodox summer camp I was the guy who knew everything. Some years I wouldn’t answer questions just to avoid being a know-it-all! From the outside things looked pretty good. I had a family who loved me, I was highly involved in Church life and when I was 15 became one of my church’s main chanters, I attended various Orthodox educational opportunities, spent several summers at an Orthodox summer camp, and attended several Orthodox programs/conferences across the country. I didn’t cuss, I didn’t listen to music with curse words, I didn’t drink, I didn’t smoke, and I’d never had sex. I looked pretty good to almost anybody, but I knew that something deep inside of me was off, very off.

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