In worship on Sunday, November 4th, we welcomed four of our members to offer their stories of gratitude to our church family, and share how this church has impacted their faith and their life. These moving testimonies will be shared separately over the coming days, and we hope they will inspire you to reflect on the ways our church has impacted your own faith and life.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how our lives flow through different seasons. And as I started thinking about all of the seasons my life has taken me through, I realized quickly that this church has been there for me during every single one of those seasons… the highs and the lows. Our church has also flowed through many seasons. It has grown and changed a lot throughout the years. But one thing as always remained: the church continues to bring stability, comfort, a safe space, and amazing relationships into my life.
My family joined this church when I was young, and one of the first people I can remember changing my life was Sue Murdoch. She gave me my first solo and cast me as Daniel in the lion’s den. She helped build my love of music and performance, and introduced to me the concept of using my voice as a way to share the gifts that God has given me. Middle and high school is usually a difficult season for many, and I was not spared this struggle. But this church became a home away from home. Through choir and youth group, I built relationships with people that remain some of my dearest friends to this day. Joy Hire and Sara Sharp came into my life during this time. I still lovingly refer to Joy as my second mom, and Sara is a staple in the life of my family, including being June’s baptism sponsor.
I wish I had time to talk about each member who has touched our life, but one family in particular has been through many seasons with us. Through mutual church friends, I met Susan and Joe Leithauser the summer after I graduated high school. They trusted me with caring for their two babies at the time, Clare: an active toddler, and Peter: a smiley, drooly infant. I have watched them grow, singing at Sally’s baptism, watching them walk down the aisle as our flower girls and ring “burier,” growing with them as their confirmand sponsors and now watching them babysit our two babies. It’s a beautiful “figure 8,” as Susan calls it.
Then came the seasons of adulthood. Whether it was the season of being homesick at college, the season of staying out too late on Saturday nights, the season of naptimes during church that kept us at home, or the season of working on our health taking us to open gym instead of worship, our church home remained the place that we always come back to. Canon and I served as youth leaders when we were still just dating. We got married in this church and have had our babies baptized in this church. When we lost a child, I received cards from people in the congregation who had known me since I was a child myself. When we lost Canon’s mother, Karen helped us mourn in a way that was both private and intimate, but also very meaningful. The church put together a meal train for us when I went back to work after having my babies. Trip visited us in the hospital during a new treatment and talked us through navigating the hospital world. And I still receive handwritten notes from Janice following up after the death of my beloved grandmother.
When we were asked to speak about what this church means to us, it was a no-brainer to say “absolutely.” But then the question became, “how do we fit all that into a few minutes.” So let me sum it up with the words of our children. June says her favorite things are the Children’s moment, Jesus, Miss Carol and when they pour the water in the bowl. Freeman says he loves Miss Amy and playing with his friends. Watching my children develop their love of this church, and build relationships here, is undoubtedly the greatest gift we could receive. Our extended family is one of mixed faiths. What we all love about First Presbyterian Church in Granville is that it is open and welcoming. You all practice what you preach: kindness, love and acceptance. And for that, we are grateful.