One of the things I like best about a parish visit is the chance I get to hear people speak about their journeys in faith. I usually ask candidates for confirmation or reception why they have chosen to make their reaffirmation of faith today, how they got to this moment. I inevitably hear stories about God’s action in people’s lives, about a series of events – often over many years – that made today the right day. Sometimes a spouse or a child has brought them to this moment. Sometimes a quiet voice that kept prodding has caused them to give the life of faith a second look. Sometimes a tragedy or an experience of ministry has made them eager to recommit their lives to Christ. Whatever the particulars, individual journeys have joined with the journey of a faith community giving everyone the opportunity to consider again what it means to live a baptized life. I always find myself moved and grateful for stories people tell and the moment their journeys have created for the community.
Such was the case this Pentecost at St. George’s, Sanford. Rector Susan Murphy presented a class of eight for confirmation, reaffirmation and reception. Gretchen and I arrived by 8 a.m.for a meeting with the candidates. After a too short time of conversation, we joined for a gala celebration of the birthday of the church which featured fine music by the choir.
The service was followed by a memorable lunch during which the parish made a couple of presentations. One was a presentation by the Sunday School of a “jeweled” box of St. George’s Treasures – written offerings by the children of the things they loved about St. George’s. That was followed by a comic presentation (think Marden’s) by the Wardens of the comments of many parishioners expressing why they came to St. George’s and why they stayed. It was to great hear directly from so many parishioners about the warm fellowship and strong ministry of St. George’s.
A very upbeat vestry spoke with me about the positive changes and increased stewardship that have occurred in the rector’s first year at St. George’s. They also asked questions about the upcoming General Convention and the impact of the new civil marriage law on the church. A conversation with the rector concluded our visit. (As it happens, Susan’s first service at St. George’s was Pentecost 2008).
Thunderstorms were popping up all around as we headed home. But in my heart, everything was sunshine.