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Former  Member Of the Congregational Church

 

Thirty Four Years To Conversion

By Paul E. Kreutz

I  was baptized a member of the Church in October 1998. My wife, Kristy, and our five children were born members of the Church. But it took me 34 years of marriage and “hanging around” the Church and Church members before I took the big step.

I’m an attorney and am very much into rational thinking and logic. It was difficult for me to accept the Joseph Smith story and to believe in the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. Yet, for most of my life I found myself trying to fill the "spiritual hole in my soul".

Having been raised a mainstream Protestant, I sought spiritual fulfillment by attending the Congregational Church in Palo Alto, California (where we lived before moving to San Diego in 1994). I did this while the rest of my family attended the LDS Church.

Initially, I felt very comfortable in "my" church. It was familiar and did not challenge my intellectual understanding of the Gospel nor ask me to accept "stories" of latter day revelation and prophets.

But over time, I found that attending church without my family was lonely and not satisfying. So I started (again) attending LDS Church services with my family. I found that there were times when I did, indeed, feel the Spirit and I determined to continue to attend "my wife's" church rather than "my" church.

We attended the Del Mar First Ward after we moved to San Diego. I felt like an "observer"', never really connecting to the Ward or its members. For various reasons, 1997 and 1998 were very stressful and emotionally draining for me. I found that I was not enjoying life and began to wonder if I would ever be truly happy.

At this time I was also struggling with my dependence on alcohol. Although I did not consider my self an alcoholic, I realized that too much of my life was dependent on the having a drink to “relax”.

Since both my twin brother and mother had died of alcoholism, I feared that I was headed to the same fate. I took a step that I never thought that I was capable of: I stopped drinking “cold turkey” and haven’t had a drink since 1998.

One Sunday, as I was returning home from church, I realized that my attempts over the years to find spiritual fulfillment had failed. It became clear to me that I could not, on my own, achieve the happiness and joy that I had been seeking. I asked the Lord to help me and acknowledged that I could not do it by myself.

At this time, I began to consider whether the Church could provide the spiritual answers and happiness that I was so desperately seeking. I asked myself, “Since nothing else has worked, why not give the Church a try?”

Logic told me that because most members of the Church seemed happier and more spiritually fulfilled than I, maybe I should seriously investigate what the Church had to offer. The fact that I was living the Word of Wisdom opened my heart to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

Thereafter, as I attended Church, I was impressed with the positive messages that came from the pulpit and the love that I felt from the members. The more I opened my heart to the Gospel and the Spirit, the more fulfilled I felt.

There was no denying the change in me and no doubt that I was happier than before. I allowed myself to contemplate the possibility that the Joseph Smith "story" was true.

What logic had denied, the Spirit confirmed. I accepted the Gospel and was baptized by my son, Paul Jr., on October 10, 1998. I have since been ordained a High Priest and have served as an ordinance worker in the San Diego Temple for five years. I currently serve as Group Leader for the High Priest Quorum in our Ward.

Since my conversion, my life has totally changed. I regret that I took so long to accept the Gospel and, whenever possible, encourage others not to make the same mistakes I did.

.

 

 

 

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