I was 11 years old and wanted to go to the bowling party with my friends. This particular party, however, was for the members of the Junior Choir at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Waterloo, Iowa. It didn’t take long for my friends and me to figure out how to get me there - and to many other choir parties and outings. My family belonged to the Methodist church, but the choir director welcomed me, and my parents didn’t object so I started going to the after-school practices on Thursdays and to the once a month Sunday service when the choir sang. Before too long my parents were coming to St. Mark’s and the transition to the Episcopal church began. The next year we moved to Texas. and I was the first of my family to be confirmed — at St. Peter’s in Pasadena. I’ve been going to church and choir parties ever since, in every place I have lived.
Skip to 1968 when my husband, Doug, and I came to Alexandria to look for our first apartment before moving here after he finished graduate school at Cornell. I was a deeply committed Episcopalian by that time and he was equally committed to his Christian Science faith. We had chosen an apartment in Shirlington and had one car between us, so discovering our two churches only a block apart (and services only 30 minutes apart) ticked that box on the moving-to-a-new-town list.
I’ve now been at Emmanuel 53 years. At one point early on I stopped coming for awhile, but when I realized that my heart never left Emmanuel, I came right back. Over time I’ve been grateful to have a variety of opportunities to serve and lead and minister, all the while building meaningful long lasting friendships. Our four children attended the preschool, Sunday School, and youth group and all were campers and then on camp staff at Shrine Mont. Two of our grandchildren were baptized there and one day Doug’s and my cremains will be interred near the Shrine. Emmanuel and Shrine Mont are tightly bound in our understanding and experience of “church.”
One could say that life circumstances dictated my choice of faith and church homes, but I see it as the Holy Spirit guiding me into relationship with God and a sustaining community. Although Doug’s and my faith journeys have been on parallel tracks, they have brought our family a multitude of blessings, joy and inspiration, opportunities for service, meaningful relationships, and comfort. I couldn’t be more grateful or ask for more.