Friday, April 24, 2009

Becoming Part of a Community

Alex Cooke gave this talk after church services on April 19th.

My husband and I moved to Easton around five years ago as we were tired of renting outside of NY and I didn't want to raise a family there. Although having both graduated from Kutztown University, we knew very little about Easton. Caswell "happened" upon it one day with his dad and when he brought me to the area several weeks later on a "house-hunting" trip, I feel in love with the town and the rest is history.

As soon as we closed on a house, Caswell started working on a job which took him out of town for the first two months so I was left to make the transition and find "things to do". Having come from a Catholic family who attended church every weekend—not just Christmas and Easter, I decided it was time to find a local church.

I first attended St. Michael’s (across the street before it closed) and felt greatly disappointed when no one seemed to care that I was a new face in the crowd. I was even more stunned when I went to shake the priest's hand after service and he "moved me along" as if he had someone or something more important to do. It wasn't hard to make the decision that I would continue my search for a more welcoming church.

I knew the following weekend I would "try out" the Episcopal Church across the street. I was a little nervous as I always felt more "secure" going into an Episcopal church with my husband who was raised Episcopalian and knew the service better than I did. When we attended services in each others churches, we had little ways of helping the other one through it. For example, the Catholic Church splits the "Our Father" prayer in half so I would squeeze Caswell's hand so he knew when to stop "mid-prayer" and then continue with everyone.

The following weekend I attended Trinity and, like the other Episcopal churches I attended, I felt welcomed. People introduced themselves to me and I even made it through the service without the help of my husband-the “real” Episcopalian!”

The week following that Sunday I received a welcome card and a loaf of bread from congregation member Sue Ann. The decision was easy after that—a church that loves baked goods as much as I did was the church for me! I have to admit, I was also thrilled that the Celebrant that weekend, Mother Donna, was a women. Since my job is in a male-dominated field, I respect other women who pave the sometimes difficult path of gaining respect and doing what they love despite the limitations society places on them.

I found myself actually enjoying going to church on a more regular basis and wanting to become more involved. Any guilt I felt by not being able to go to service on particular Sundays was no longer driven by the “Catholic guilt” of “You better go to church if you want to go to Heaven” but by the disappointment of not seeing friendly faces and missing out on a really good sermon.
I began to feel I was becoming apart of a community. The more I got involved, the more I needed that community. This became even more crucial with the arrival of our daughter Grace. With so many friends facing the difficulties of trying to have a child, I felt truly blessed and thankful for the gift of her. While the parents of a child always feel guilty for any disruptions their child causes during service, once again, Trinity came through. You made us feel welcome to have a cooing baby in the pew and just in time formed a nursery so that she could “play” while mommy and daddy could get an hour of “adult time” and prayer.

Grace joyfully looks forward to receiving communion which she calls “get bread” and always asks for more. Even at such an early age, she can’t get enough! It is wonderful to watch her grow and feel as though Trinity is going through the same growth process of becoming bigger with each passing day.

The Capitol Funds Campaign is extremely important to Trinity as I feel the church must continue to grow in order to accommodate the needs of it’s people. Everyone talks of the economy and the bad state that it is in and while I do not deny this, it’s hard to believe it as a member of this congregation when week after week, month after month-whether it is backpacks or food for the soup kitchen or volunteers for special events, this congregation comes through for all that is asked of it. That tells me that the people of this church put others before themselves and realize the importance of the community of this church and that it extends beyond the walls that so desperately need to be repaired.

The architectural supports of this church may be compromised but the people of this church are the real support braces.

Being a parent comes with many sacrifices but there are many, many rewards that are immeasurable. This is also the case with Trinity. While it will take sacrifices to put extra money towards the Capitol Fund Campaign, the rewards will be immeasurable. Think of all the sacrifices the people of this parish before us made in order for us to have a place to come and worship and be thankful. Ask yourself what legacy you want to leave behind—not just for your children or your family—but as a member of this family here at Trinity.

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