For four years I was an Assemblies of God monk with the Brothers And Sisters of Charity. The following is from a yet-to-be-released book called Taking Off My Comfortable Clothes, from the chapter called We Couldn’t Exhaust Our Common Jesus (Ecumenism). This was previously posted in October, 2008.
For the majority of the time I was a protestant monk living at the Little Portion, I was also the only non-Catholic, but I knew this would be the case before I moved there. There were many points of disagreement in our traditions and theologies, but on this one item we always agreed: We could not exhaust the topic of our common love for Jesus.
From the beginning, John Michael Talbot’s vision regarding the community involved the inclusion of many different people — celibate and single men and women, families, and non-Catholics. The community describes itself as being a Catholic-based, ecumenical community, and for four years, I was the primary ecumenical expression of the order.
Because of this, I was often the “go to” person when non-Catholic guests arrived. Since the community is located about ten miles from Eureka Springs, AR (a vibrant tourist destination that is the home of the Great Passion Play), and 60 miles southwest of Branson, MO, we would often have visitors who were either fans of John Michael, or curious about our community, or both. If these visitors happened to be non-Catholics, then the call usually went out, “Find Brother Jim.” Besides John Michael, I was the only one at the community who was bi-lingual; I spoke both Protestant and Catholic.