Socrates famously said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” This quote probably captures both our individual and family experiences as it relates to how we how come to call St. John’s our home. Neither of us were raised as Episcopalians. John was baptized and actively practiced in the Catholic church. Emily’s father is Jewish, and despite not experiencing a Bat Mitvah, she was raised with the Jewish faith. Her mom was a Presbyterian but agreed to raise Emily and her brother as Jewish at the request of her father. She did, however, celebrate Christmas and Easter, and of course enjoyed chocolate around Passover.
While John’s faith was relatively consistent throughout his life, as Emily grew older, she began to explore more about religiosity and wanted to follow her own path, researching multiple denominations, until finally being baptized Episcopal when she was 18 and confirmed when she was 19 years old. She has never second guessed her decision to accept the Episcopal church and has been committed to being active in her church from the time she decided to become an Episcopalian.
When we were first married, we knew that selecting a church where we could both be comfortable worshiping was a very important part of our relationship. So, we began to explore churches and parishes. It should be noted that an equally famous anonymous source once said “happy wife, happy life,” so while John’s Catholic faith remained important, the most important aspect was finding somewhere we both felt like we wanted to call a church our home. That is what we found a St. John’s.
Despite St. John’s being one of the first churches we visited, St. John’s became the benchmark that we measured all other churches. We recall fondly filling out the welcome placard, committing to do more research about St. John’s, on our own. However, a mere day or two passed when we received a note from Father Leon welcoming us to the St. John’s community (yes, those welcome cards really do work!).
While there were undoubtedly some adjustments for John in adopting a new denomination, the parish welcomed us without hesitation or judgment. St. John’s “newcomer” sessions really helped us understand the Episcopal faith, the beliefs and organization. While we never tire about learning about the history of the church, we most appreciate the diversity of the parishioners, the special activities, and the many opportunities for fuller enrichments that St. John’s offers.
We cannot overstate how happy we are that we made the decision to join the St. John’s community. We feel blessed that we were able to have our son, Grant, baptized into the Episcopal faith, and more directly at St. John’s. Knowing that he will forever be connected to St. John’s makes us feel wonderful.
We are aware of everything that St. John’s provides us, and really strive to give back. Since we joined, Emily has helped teach Sunday school, been part of the Women’s Retreat, helped with the lunches and attended the last trip to The Holy Land. John has enjoyed being a greeter and even helped out as a reader a couple of times. Grant has enjoyed the nursery, Godly Play and Sunday School. He also made an appearance in the Christmas Pageant and the Feast of the Three Kings. St. John’s has become a second family to us, and we are looking forward to continuing to watch Grant grow up in the church and see him become an Acolyte.
We are so blessed to call St. John’s our home. While the statistical diversity of the church can be measured in many ways, we hope that we are able to add to the diversity of the church through our unique backgrounds, experiences and the small contributions we try to support to make St. John’s the wonderful home that is.