The Story of Pastor Robert Frisby
How does a former Southern Baptist minister find his way into the Eastern Orthodox Church?
It was a long and winding road for Bob and Laurel Frisby and two of their grandchildren.
Bob spent his childhood and early teens without a church to call home. He was what he calls, “a lay me down to sleep Christian.” Bedtime prayers and an occasional foray to church were the extent of his religious upbringing. Bob grew up fairly oblivious to what it meant to be a Christian but all that was to change in the autumn of 1974. Bill, Bob’s identical twin brother, was killed in a car wreck while drag-racing on a country road in Illinois.
Bill’s death set in motion a chain of events that would lead to his parents and his brother Jack becoming Christians over the next few years. Eventually, Bob went on to a Baptist college where he met Laurel who was to become his wife. Laurel had been raised in the Southern Baptist church since childhood. Bob and Laurel were married in 1980 and soon began their family together. In 1985 Bob became a pastor in the Southern Baptist faith.
Bob and Laurel settled into pastoring and raising their 3 daughters over the years that followed. However, in 1997 Bob stepped out of the ministry and became a financial advisor. Finances and the pressures of raising three teenage daughters lead them to decide to find employment outside the church. He and Laurel continued to be very involved in church ministry but Bob was no longer pastoring a church.
Over the years Bob and Laurel were involved in charismatic, independent churches as well as Southern Baptist churches. Bob longed to be back in full-time ministry but continued to work in the financial services field. The desire of his heart was to be back in ministry but the time and place never seemed right during the years following his resignation. Interestingly, his desire to be back in ministry was accompanied by a growing dissatisfaction with the evangelical/Protestant churches he had attended.
Eventually, his need for a Christian church that emphasized both historical traditions and spiritual discipline drove him to search for something different from the churches he had known before. He began to read literature on spiritual disciplines and worship by Roman Catholic authors. He began to realize that what he was looking for was a historical, liturgical church. The question was, “Which one?”
His search would eventually lead him to the Orthodox Church. In 2007, during the course of a conversation with a Roman Catholic friend and coworker, Robert was asked if he could see himself becoming Roman Catholic. He replied
“No, but I could see myself becoming Orthodox.”
This statement had come about as a result of several conversations with the Roman Catholic coworker regarding the true church. Bob had extensively researched both the Roman and the Eastern Church on the internet.
And so, the seed was planted. In early spring of 2009, Robert came to find the Eastern Orthodox Church of Prescott on the Internet. He quickly realized it was the same church he had found two years prior while doing research. His curiosity and desire to know more led him to contact Fr. John Peck. After meeting with Father John and attending Vespers, Bob knew he had found that for which his heart yearned.
Drawn by the beauty of the icons, the fragrance of the incense and the meaningful worship, he knew immediately that he had found the church he was looking for. The liturgy itself took some getting used to, but now it holds great meaning for him.
The best part came when his wife, Laurel, decided to join him on the journey to Orthodoxy. Laurel had been raised a Southern Baptist. The liturgical worship of the Orthodox Church was completely foreign to her. However, after just a few visits, she too decided that this was the church for her. The rich traditions and beautiful worship captured her heart.
To make things even more special Bob and Laurel’s grandchildren Marcus and Maya came to the Orthodox Church with them. They along with their mother, Sheena, were living with Bob and Laurel. Sheena, though she attended a Baptist Church, gave permission for Marcus and Maya to attend along with Grandma and Grandpa. She also gave permission for them to be Baptized into the holy, apostolic, Catholic Church!
As if to confirm that Bob did in fact choose the right church, his pastor, upon being told by Bob of his plans to convert, said to him
“If I had to choose one church for you to attend, I would have recommended the Orthodox Church.”
Bob served as an elder in his pastor’s church for two years and they remain close friends today.
Bob also received great support from many of the people that knew of his plans.
Upon being asked to summarize the day of his family’s entrance into the Church on August 15, 2009, which included his two beautiful grandchildren, Marcus and Maya, Bob responded with the following:
“It was great. When I first met Father John, one of my biggest questions was about Mary, the Theotokos. Interestingly, my family was baptized on the Feast of the Dormition of Mary! I don’t believe that it was all a coincidence of timing. It was immensely meaningful to me to receive communion that day. Every Sunday that we attended church and could not participate in the Eucharist was a day of longing for Laurel and I. We couldn’t wait to partake of the mystical supper.”