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Published: Friday, 12/3/2010

Pastor opts for deeper spirituality

Larry Cameron, pastor of Pilgrim Church in West Toledo, is completing his 1-year Nazirite vow, during which he has not eaten products of the vine or any food that once had ‘the breath of life' in it. Larry Cameron, pastor of Pilgrim Church in West Toledo, is completing his 1-year Nazirite vow, during which he has not eaten products of the vine or any food that once had ‘the breath of life' in it.
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When the Rev. Larry Cameron decided that he wanted to be “more intentional” about his faith, he turned to one of the oldest books in the Bible for guidance.

In Numbers, Chapter 6, the Lord gives Moses instructions on how men or women can make a special vow — “a vow of separation to the Lord, as a Nazirite.”

Among the requirements that God gives for a Nazirite vow are to abstain from wine and fermented drink; to drink no grape juice or eat any grapes or raisins; to not cut one’s hair or beard, and to not go near a dead body — even if one’s mother, father, sister, or brother dies.

Mr. Cameron, pastor of Pilgrim Church in West Toledo, said he consulted with members of the Anam Cara religious order to which he belongs before taking the Nazirite vow. The time frame for such vows can vary and even can be lifelong, but Mr. Cameron decided to make a one-year vow. He will speak of his Nazirite year, which ended Nov. 27, during a Christmas program at 6 p.m. Sunday at Pilgrim Church, 1375 W. Sylvania Ave.

One famous Nazirite in the Bible was Samson, who was consecrated from birth according to the Book of Judges, Chapter 13. When his hair was cut, the Lord “left him” and he lost his strength, according to the Scriptures.

Mr. Cameron said the prophet Samuel and Apostle Paul also were Nazirites.

Lou Engle of Kansas City, founder of The Call and a leader of the International House of Prayer, has called for a “Nazirite Uprising” to restore America, and predicted Nazirites will be known for their spiritual “passion” that “can shift the destiny of nations.”

Mr. Cameron said in an interview this week that he personally did not know anyone else who has made a Nazirite vow, but felt compelled to take his spirituality to a deeper level.

“I was interested in taking time to be even more intentional than normal, and trying to observe this discipline,” he said.

He said he made a few “adaptations” of the biblical guidelines.

“One of the things that a Nazirite cannot do is be associated with anything that is dead,” Mr. Cameron said. “You can’t touch anything that is dead. So I made that a little broad in my dietary consumption, and anything that once had the breath of life in it I could not eat.”

That meant, for example, that he would abstain from such foods as meat and fowl.

“And then I could not have any grapes or anything that has grapes in it, like Raisin Bran [cereal].”

The dietary regimen was more challenging than he expected, he said, and it helped him realize how important it is to be aware of every moment and every action.

He once grabbed a grape and popped it in his mouth before realizing that he had pledged to avoid the fruit of the vine, for example.

“I felt like, ‘Oh, what a dummy!’” Mr. Cameron said. “It was a challenge. It was something that was new. It’s hard to go out to a restaurant and even find something to eat. There is meat or bacon bits on just about everything.

“It has forced me to really be more intentional, to wake up and think about all of the things that you do. You can’t live in a state of hyperconsciousness all the time, but it has been good for me in that I have had to make some choices that I normally wouldn’t have to make,” he said.

“You’ve just got to pay attention. It’s a metaphor to so many other things. So many times we don’t pay attention to details in our lives but go through the motions automatically.”

Rabbi Kirt Schneider of Adat Adonai Messianic Jewish Temple said the Nazirite vow “is not something you hear of often today, and the way that it’s practiced today is not the way it’s practiced in the Scriptures.”

He said that according to Numbers 6, the Nazirite is required to end his or her vow by presenting three offerings to God in the Temple in Jerusalem.

“Since the Temple is no longer standing, you can no longer bring the offerings there. Other than that, you are able to do everything else in the Scriptures today,” Rabbi Schnei der said.

Mr. Cameron said he considers his year as a Nazirite to be part of an ongoing process of spiritual development.

“Not everybody is so blessed to have a Damascus Road experience like Paul did, where you’re zapped and you change,” he said. “Most of us experience spiritual growth in minute steps and can’t see the distance we have come until later in life when we get a chance to look back and see.”

As for letting his hair and beard grow, Mr. Cameron, 51, said it was more difficult for others than it was for him. “I went home for Thanksgiving and my mother was anxious for me to get a shave and a haircut.”

Contact David Yonke at:

dyonke@theblade.com

or 419-724-6154.



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