It caused an uproar in Sweden when Ulf Ekman left his Protestant ministry and became a Catholic. As he told The Catholic Herald: "We need what the Lord has given to the Catholic Church to live fully as Christians."
It caused more than just a stir when I told the congregation of the Evangelical megachurch that I served as pastor since I founded it 30 years ago that my wife and I intended to become Catholics.
It caused a real uproar in my country of Sweden, which remains overwhelmingly Protestant. The period from that day, March 9, until May 21, when we were received into the Catholic Church, was marked by contention and debate. I have binders full of articles, comments and reactions that appeared in the traditional media and on the internet.
Our conviction that we needed to become Catholics grew slowly, over a number of years, but the actual decision to take this step came rather late. Our question was: How should we communicate it? It could really not be done over a longer period of time, step by step.
That would have caused great speculation and confusion, nationally and internationally in our great network of churches. Over the last couple of years our friends and co-workers realised that we were more and more attracted to Catholic theology, morals, liturgy and culture.
Few of them, though, perceived that we would actually make the step and convert. In the months and weeks before we announced our decision we involved the board of the church and some other colleagues to be prepared to help us in the process of communicating this news to the congregation.
As I now look back, I cannot see any other way that this could have been done. The pastors at Word of Life did an excellent job, helping the members to start processing what had happened and its different consequences. They also had to try to answer a number of questions about the Catholic faith. Yet there were many emotions: Criticism, as well as sorrow and feelings of loss and rejection.
How could I as a pastor leave my flock? Did I not betray them and my own calling? Didn't I consider them Christians anymore? Was everything I taught before wrong now? Some wondered how I, who seem to have been standing strong for so many years, could fall for such an outright deception and lie. Accusations were hurled from left and right and emotions ran high. Some still do.
- Ulf Ekman is the former pastor of the Word of Life church in Uppsala, Sweden
Full story: How I moved from my megachurch to Catholicism (The Catholic Herald)