Dan, my host and hiking buddy last week, went to Oklahoma Baptist University and majored in religion and philosophy while I was still living in Shawnee and working on my Ph. D. at the University of Oklahoma. He once led a youth group event for me at Rolling Hills in Fayetteville and a few years ago I led a Lenten event for him in Oregon City. In between he has also lived in Paris, Southern California, and Zurich. He became an Episcopal priest and I became UCC.
He told a humourous story about one time being in a meeting with some Roman Catholic priests when one called everyone else "Father" except Dan. Later he was asking Dan about his church and when Dan mentioned a priest of the Old Catholic Church, the dogmatist said, "Oh, his orders are valid."
Thus implying that Dan's orders are "not valid." I responded, as we hiked along sharing this story, "wonder what he would think of your orders in comparison with the gay married UCC guy?"
We enjoyed apostolic succession jokes and anecdotes and much other theological, churchy, middle judicatory, and philosophical humour in our days of hiking (and drinking) together.
Dan and I agree that the issues facing the mainline churches are not as severe as often reported. That most churches simply need to make a few correct decisions and that what often plagues congregations is poor leadership (can be clerical and/or lay).
I have also rarely laughed so hard so often in one week.