From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Former Pastor Becomes Priest

Date 13 May 1996 14:40:24

"UNITED METHODIST DAILY NEWS" by SUSAN PEEK on Aug. 11, 1991 at 13:58 Eastern,

Note 2957 by UMNS on May 13, 1996 at 15:40 Eastern (5458 characters).

SEARCH: United Methodist, Roman Catholic, minister, priest
priesthood, Medlock

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Produced by United Methodist News Service, official news agency of
the United Methodist Church, with offices in Nashville, Tenn., New
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CONTACT:  Linda Bloom                          243(10-21-71){2957}
          New York (212) 870-3803                     May 13, 1996

Faith journey leads United Methodist
from pastorate to Catholic priesthood

                        A UMNS News-Feature
                          by Linda Bloom*

     As he progressed from Methodist Youth Fellowship member to
active layperson to ordained minister, Scott Medlock seemed
destined for lifelong service in the United Methodist Church.
     But Medlock, an Orlando, Fla., native, has had a dual faith
journey. The second journey started during his undergraduate years
at the University of Notre Dame, intensified with his marriage to
a "cradle Catholic" and eventually led to a desire for a more
"eucharistically-centered" faith experience.
     On March 19, the 41-year-old former United Methodist pastor
was ordained a Roman Catholic deacon. On July 26, in Anchorage,
Alaska, he will be ordained a priest.
     Along the way, he has garnered support from both sides.
     Roman Catholic Archbishop Francis T. Hurley of Anchorage, who
supervised Medlock's preparation for the priesthood, told United
Methodist News Service he is "a very fine teacher and a very
bright fellow."
     United Methodist Bishop Joseph Yeakel, who had served as
Medlock's bishop in the Baltimore-Washington Annual (regional)
Conference, said he considered him a "quality person" who handled
his struggle over leaving the United Methodist Church with
     Medlock stressed that while he now identifies himself "fully
as a Catholic," part of his heart remains behind.
     "I really have a deep love of the Methodist Church and that
has not been lost," he explained. "It's impossible to express how
much the faith of my (United Methodist) parishioners ... nourished
my own faith and helped me grow in the love of Christ."
     That faith was nurtured in a Methodist congregation his
great-grandparents had helped establish. By the time he was a high
school senior, however, Medlock was "beginning to question
everything about what I believed."
     The "thriving faith among students on campus" at the
University of Notre Dame helped draw him back to Christianity as
he studied there from 1973-77. He began attending Mass with his
     In retrospect, Medlock credits the experience of the Mass,
being at Notre Dame and meeting his wife as "the three most
important influences" in his embrace of the Catholic faith. He and
his wife, Maria Elena, were married in 1978 by the Rev. Theodore
Hesburgh, who was then Notre Dame's president.
     At that point, his ties to Methodism still remained strong.
He returned to Orlando for three years, working as a stockbroker
and an active member of First United Methodist Church. Then, from
1980-83, he attended Notre Dame's law school. With guidance from a
local United Methodist minister, he began the process toward
     Simultaneously, Medlock struck a close friendship with a
devout Catholic and law professor, Bob Rhodes. "He said, 'I think
that some day you're going to have to become a Catholic' ... and
ended up talking with me about the Catholic faith in a way that no
one had talked to me before," he recalled.
     But he still felt more Protestant than Catholic. He attended
Duke University Divinity School and served several "wonderful
congregations" in Maryland.
     Eventually, Medlock found it was no longer possible for him
to maintain a bridge between his Wesleyan faith and the broader
Roman Catholic tradition.
     In the fall of 1991, he returned to Notre Dame and consulted
with Rhodes. He encouraged Medlock to speak to Hesburgh, who was
supportive and told his story to Hurley.
     According to Hurley, the precedent to consider married
pastors from another denomination for the priesthood was set
around 1980 when the Episcopalian Church began ordaining women.
Some male priests who opposed those ordinations petitioned the
Vatican to accept them into the Catholic faith.
     Because celibacy is a church-made law, according to the
archbishop, exceptions can be granted. To his knowledge, Medlock
is the third United Methodist pastor "who has gone this route."
     Three full years of preparation are required under the
guidance of a sponsoring bishop. Hurley's first test was to invite
the Medlocks to Alaska in January 1992 to see if they could make
the transition to its harsh climate.
     Medlock admitted that moving to Anchorage "was the biggest
leap we've ever taken." He said that giving up his pastoral
calling in the Protestant church without the guarantee of being
accepted ultimately by Rome was "like putting Isaac on the altar."
     But today Medlock, his wife and their three children  -- 
Aaron and Matthew, who will be 13 and 11 in June, and Angela, who
is 8 -- have no regrets.
     "The eucharistically-centered faith vision of the Catholic
Church ... is truly where my faith has come," he said.
                              #  #  #

     * Bloom is director of the New York Office of United
Methodist News Service.


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