When my husband and I were engaged, we relocated to Delaware. One of the first things on our priority list was finding a church home – partly because we missed church back in North Carolina, but also because we were hoping to make some new friends in our new town. “Church shopping” was hard – nothing felt quite right, and our old standbys were not working. I was born and raised in the United Methodist Church, and my husband had nominally been raised in the Presbyterian Church. After months of frustration, and the recommendation of a friend, we tentatively tried out the Cathedral in Delaware. My husband was sold on the first Sunday; I took some time to come around. For a long time, I thought that we were just United Methodists who happened to worship in an Episcopal Church. But what I did not realize was that a transformation was taking place – I was discovering the Church home I didn’t know I was missing.
Every person who walks in the door of a church has a similar story. Sometimes a person is what we call a “cradle Episcopalian” – born, raised, and stayed in the Episcopal Church. Sometimes a couple or family is looking for a compromise in faith traditions. Sometimes people leave their denomination out of frustration and are looking for something that feels closer to the Gospel as they experience it. And sometimes a person has never before stepped a foot in a church. That’s part of the beauty of the Episcopal Church – our members come from a diverse set of experiences, all of which feed our mutual ministry.
That is why we are kicking off a class called “Discovery Class” this week at Hickory Neck. Whether you are new to Hickory Neck, the Episcopal Church, or you have been around forever, I find it is always helpful to review our roots. No matter how many times I teach this class, I find that people learn something new, feel inspired to deepen their faith, or find themselves reenergized about their Episcopal identity. The class also gives us a chance to reflect on and celebrate the unique way that our Episcopal identity is incarnate at Hickory Neck.
I hope you will take some time this week to reflect on your own spiritual journey. Think back to the times when you felt inspired, fed, and reinvigorated in your faith. Recall the way you felt when you knew, or suspected, that your current faith community began to feel like a spiritual home. And if you cannot join us at Hickory Neck, share some of those stories with your neighbors – and invite them into the wonderful work Jesus is doing in your church home!