Today’s conversion story comes from Trav Fecht, who described herself to me as “a 56-year-old wife and mom with a male name.” Recently Trav has undergone a distinct conversion in worship preferences, rethinking the contemporary music and casual atmosphere of her evangelical Wesleyan church and discovering the liturgy of the Anglican/Episcopalian traditions.
It’s not a complete conversion, however, as she still attends both churches. I’ll let her explain below.
My name is Trav Fecht and I live in Milan, Illinois. I am a wife and mother of two grown sons. I retired from oncology three years ago and am a housewife and love being home.
Please describe your conversion experience or process:
I became an Evangelical Christian in 1980 (no previous church going growing up) and have attended the same contemporary-worship Wesleyan church since then. I am now still attending our Wesleyan church on Saturday evenings and going to an Anglican Church, with liturgical worship, on Sunday mornings.
What events led to your conversion?
I had always embraced the contemporary worship our church had kind of slowly changed to over these last 15 years or so. In the past year, I began to feel empty and almost annoyed with the service at times. Our son is at Duke training to be an Episcopal priest and I started to see that there were more ways to worship. I just felt drawn to check out the liturgical worship as I had no experience with that at all. I felt very guilty for wanting something different. It was a horrible time trying to figure out what was going on. When our son and his wife were home visiting I went to the church that I am at now and REALLY enjoyed the reverence.
My husband and I became Christians in 1980 at a Wesleyan church in our city. My husband was raised in a Catholic home and I really did have a background at all as we rarely went to church when I was younger. I think we were 26 and 27 years old at the time. We both knew that this is what was missing and what we needed. The church was small back then and we had the honor of getting to spend a lot of time with the pastor and his wife and other couples of our age group. Our kids all grew up together. Fast-forward to now…the church is a very large contemporary worship church. We have around 2,500 people or so (when we started, there were about 80 people).
Our oldest son graduated from Indiana Wesleyan College and is now at Duke getting his master in Divinity. He is training to be an Episcopal priest. He does lean toward the conservative side and the split in the Episcopal church was very sad for him. Anyway, I have been in that kind of service a few times and I really like the liturgical church worship much better than what I am used to. I am very drawn to the reverence of that kind of service and especially regarding Communion. I had never heard the Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed. I love the Book of Common Prayer and really like reading scripture with the others there and praying together.
This whole feeling really surprised me…as my son had never said anything about the church we have been in or tried to sway us in any way at all. My husband is not interested at all as he said that the Catholic service was boring and he is not interested in revisiting that. But I can remember leaving our usual church service and feeling so empty inside and more like I had been entertained. I cried several times [during the process] as I just really felt nothing and I felt guilty about my feelings. Thirty years is a long time to be at one church. I love the pastor and his wife (the same one as when we started). This feeling has nothing to do with people but more about the worship style.
Still, I want to be with my husband at church so I go with him on Saturday night to our “old” church and then I go to my new Anglican church alone on Sunday morning.
I just felt tired of the “trying too hard to be hip” and just wanted to worship Jesus.
I am now reading a book by Robert E. Webber called Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail: Why Evangelicals are Attracted to the Liturgical Church. I just want to know the church calendar — what words like Advent, Holy Week,the Epiphany Season, etc. mean. I know nothing about any of that. In a sense I feel like I am starting over, but I also know that the personal walk with Christ is as important as what I am wanting to learn.
What kind of impact did your conversion have on your friends and family?
I was so stunned with myself for wanting this type of worship. It has been, I think, six months or so of me going. I have SO much to learn, as I don’t have any background in this at all. My friends were stunned as well, but seeing how I felt made them sad and they have been very supportive. My husband was raised Catholic and is not interested in my new way of worship. I think it is easier to come from my kind of church and worship to this type than the other way around but maybe it is the same. It isn’t just words with no meaning [as some low-church evangelicals seem to think] if Scripture is sacred to you. Just my opinion.
What advice would you give someone going through the same experience or contemplating a similar conversion?
Pray, pray and pray more. I don’t think anyone could really tell me what I should do. Our son, at Duke, grew up in our ‘”old” church and has nothing but the utmost respect for the church. In my crying and guilt and other emotions I felt, he told me, “Mom, God is still at the church you are in.” I needed to hear that. Looking back, I know I was very critical about the church we had been a part of and that was not fair. I talked too much. Decide what you are missing in your heart and stay where you are if possible and visit several times where you think you might want to go. Being unhappy where you are is no excuse not to go at all.
What are three things you have learned in the process?
l. That it is OK to want to worship in another way or to want to learn more, but it’s important not to bad-mouth the church you may be leaving. I do still love our church of almost 31 years and am so grateful for learning about Christ and living like Him.
2. In the end, you have to choose what is best for you. (If you have a family, it is important to take all of that into consideration. That is why I am now going to church two days in a row.)
3. That there are many ways to worship and experience Jesus Christ. I will not be judgmental of anyone who does not agree with me.
Thank you, Trav. You can get in touch with Trav on Facebook.
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