Full Circle with Anglican Compass: The Editor’s Story

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Becoming the Editor of Anglican Compass is a full-circle experience. It’s possible that I wouldn’t be an Anglican without Anglican Compass, much less have been ordained a priest in this tradition. I spent my first 34 years in Southern Baptist churches, after all. Only God could have orchestrated the journey by which he led me to the beauty and depth of the Anglican tradition, including the vital part Anglican Compass played along the way.

Early Echoes

Years before I was actively exploring Anglicanism, the stage was being set. I grew up both in and out of the church, but when I did attend, it was in a Southern Baptist church in my North Georgia hometown. Once I could drive, I attended regularly and was baptized. However, I was never a perfect Baptist. Even if my theology had continued to align, I’m convinced my artistic sensibilities probably doomed me to leave that tradition.

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I’ve been a visual artist and storyteller for as long as I can remember (my favorite medium is charcoal). Therefore, when I moved away to college, I entered as an art major before switching to English. My art history classes exposed me to the close relationship between the church and the visual arts and how each had fueled the other for the better part of two millennia. It opened my eyes to the reality that the Christian faith could be not only good and true but also beautiful.

I served as the Baptist Student Union president at this historically Methodist college, living in and learning about the broader Christian tradition. I began to love the “Mere Christianity” of C.S. Lewis and the way he and other writers, such as John Stott and J.I. Packer, approached the faith. But it would take years for me to recognize the tradition they had in common (hint: they are all Anglicans).

Learning in Louisville

After college, I attended a Baptist seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, enrolling in a newly launched M.A. program in Theology & Arts. The church history classes that were part of my core and the classes in the arts made me explore theology across denominational lines. They exposed me to the broader and much older traditions of Christianity. I found myself challenged in my Baptist theology. I yearned for something deeper and more rooted.

Don’t get the wrong impression—my Baptist upbringing has greatly blessed me. And in Louisville, I had a wonderful Baptist church, Sojourn. That congregation put an uncommon emphasis on art and beauty. They also practiced some older liturgical rhythms, including celebrating weekly communion. This only fueled me, however, to keep searching “for the ancient paths, where the good way is” (Jer. 6:16), though I didn’t know where that would lead.

The Prayer Book Lifeline

During the economic downturn in 2009, my Theology & Arts program was shuttered. I had just enough credits to be its final of three graduates the following year (fun fact: of those three, two are now Anglican). After graduating, I completed a “Pastor’s School” and an internship at Sojourn and continued to serve there informally for several years.

Fatefully, I also took on a night shift position at the campus hotel of my alma mater. By way of vitamin D deficiency, the night shift fueled a period of depression already seeping in from life circumstances. In the resulting blend of mental fog and existential discontent, I couldn’t put the words together to pray. I needed something to lean on.

Enter the Book of Common Prayer, which I began to use for the first time. The scripture-saturated offices of Morning and Evening Prayer became a lifeline for my faith as I struggled through the night and yearned with the Psalmist, “My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning” (Ps. 130:6). However, I quickly realized there was much I did not understand about the Daily Office or any of the liturgies of the Prayer Book. I needed help!

Anglican Compass Guides the Way

Anglican Compass came to the rescue. When I came across Anglican Compass (at that time called Anglican Pastor), I was astonished by the resources on the liturgy, the church calendar, the sacraments, and even the funny clothes the clergy wear available even in those early days.

What impressed me most was not just the wealth of knowledge but that it was explained in a way that was accessible yet didn’t talk down to me. I was even pointed to resources where I could dive deeper into Anglican practice and theology. This was a warm, friendly welcome into the riches of the Anglican tradition.

Resounding Deep Within

I found a temporary respite in a local Episcopal parish, but their interior drama at that point meant I would need to bide my time. Finally, a couple of years later, a new ACNA plant formed—initially in the lobby of my Baptist church (that was both convenient and slightly awkward!). I hopped on board immediately.

A month into our interest meetings, I traveled to England and Ireland. In Ireland, while attending a Choral Evensong in the beautiful medieval sanctuary of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, I followed the words of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the Nunc Dimittis (Luke 2:29-32), and the prayers without looking at the program. I didn’t need to.

I listened to the ancient words echo off the ancient stones. Centuries of saints, some buried directly beneath my feet, had prayed those words. They now resounded deep within me. I wasn’t joining a tradition. I was part of it, and it was part of me. The hours recovering my faith through the Daily Office and Anglican Compass drew me into this ancient tradition.

It’s a joy to repay the favor and open the doors wide for others to discover the richness and beauty of the Anglican way.


Photo: the façade and spire of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Jacob Davis.

Published on

June 14, 2023

Author

Jacob Davis

The Rev. Jacob Davis is the editor of Anglican Compass. He is a priest in the Diocese of Christ Our Hope and lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as assisting clergy at Grace Anglican Church.

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