I am so pleased to have taken the course Christianity 101 with Hannah and the other wonderful members of this group. I am also so pleased to be a new member of this church. Some of the many aspects of the church that drew me to join include the caring and active members, the thoughtful planning of the services, the weekly sharing of joys and concerns, Hannah’s wise and gentle leadership, the beautiful music, Sunday Fellowship and the commitment to the Open and Affirming Statement. The last line of the Open and Affirming statement is “We strive, as individuals, to become more Christ-like in our love for one another. Through the reading and discussions in the Christianity 101 class, I learned more about what Christ was like. This has helped me to understand what it means to be more Christ-like in my relationships so that I can strive to be more like Him in all of my relationships. Thank you for welcoming me into this community. Becoming a member is in important next step in my own faith journey.
Church has been a part of my experience throughout my life. I was brought up in the Episcopal church, I married a Catholic and my husband and I raised three Catholic children. Nonetheless, in some ways, I feel that I am in the early stages of my own faith development. Right now in my journey, I am exploring how Christ, in the form of the spirit, is a part of every human relationship. I am drawn to the New Creed by the United Church of Canada. To quote part of it, “We are not alone. We live in God’s world. We believe in God, who has created and is creating, who works in us and others’ by the spirit.” The last line of the first act of my family’s favorite musical, Les Miserables, is “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I believe that the love we have for other people IS God. Our ability to care, to celebrate another’s joys, to sacrifice our own needs for another and to forgive are some of the ways in which God’s spirit works in us.
Through my job as a high school teacher and on my own outside of my work, I have led service and cultural immersion trips with young people and adults to South Africa for the past 5 years. I learned early on that we, the travelers, benefit far more from our time in South Africa than any of the people there. We serve alongside people who are working so hard to transform their country by helping themselves and each other to have safe, productive and meaningful lives. I have been very moved by the faith and spirituality of the Christians whom I have met in South Africa and I have grown as a person in so many ways through my relationships with people there. You may have heard of the term, Ubuntu, which has its origins in the Bantu language from Southern Africa. While I have heard many definitions of this term, they all share the concept that we exist only in relation to others. We are who we are because of our relationships and interactions with others. In other words, our relationships define us. Just as the New Creed says “we are not alone. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us.” I believe that God is at the heart of every human encounter and relationship. This is both a comfort that I cherish and a responsibility that I take very seriously. I look forward to getting to know more of you in the weeks and years to come. Thank you again for welcoming me into this wonderful community.