To some, my journey to St. Michael’s may appear to have begun on September 2, 2023. This was the day I posted on Facebook that I was looking for a church that is progressive and not too political.
In reality, my journey began a few years before this, while I was attending church with my grandma, sporadically at first, and then regularly. The people at her church were amazing, but I knew it wasn’t a good fit for my beliefs and values. So I moved on. I attended a few churches here and there for awhile, but still didn’t find anything promising.
It was then that I turned to Facebook for help. I received a few responses there, until my best friend saw my post and texted me. She read the comments, and seconded one of the commenters who recommended the Episcopal church. On top of that, a friend named Aaron (a fellow student from my social work program) recommended that I check out St. Michael’s. I discovered later that he had recently joined the church himself!
So I started attending virtually on the Facebook livestream for a few weeks. I don’t recall what the message was from those sermons, but it piqued my interest so I decided to try it out in person. What a wonderful choice that was!
Admittedly, it felt uncomfortable at first to not know anyone. But everyone was so welcoming that it was not long before that feeling changed. I was blessed with the opportunity to get to know Father Ryan better. This was vitally important to me, since his sermons were to become valuable life lessons for my son Elijah and me. I debated for a few weeks whether I should try to find somewhere closer to home, or somewhere with more people my age. But then Father Ryan challenged me to get out of my comfort zone, so I did.
My first step in this direction was to stay for coffee hour after the service one Sunday, and I haven’t missed one since. In this short period of time, I was convinced that St. Michael’s would be our new church home. This was a fairly easy decision to make, for many reasons. One was because of how welcoming and kind everyone was, to me and to Elijah. Another reason was that after every time I left the church to head home, I always felt at peace. And the next Sunday I found myself excited to wake up and go to church.
For once, church didn’t feel like something I did because I had to. Also, I appreciated the Episcopal faith and felt that their beliefs and values were exactly what I wanted to instill in Elijah.
When you know, you know, right? It was quickly obvious to my closest friends and family members how excited I was about my new journey with St. Michael’s. They could tell by how quickly I became involved and how much I talked about it. Someone said to me that everything seemed to be happening pretty quickly, but to me it didn’t feel quick. All of the foundations were already there; I just needed to find a place that fit with my beliefs and ways of thinking.
Before I knew it, we were talking about Baptism for Elijah, and Confirmation for me, which required a certain amount of discussion and preparation. After some spirited discussion, processing through some of my thoughts with Father Ryan, I received a powerful message from God: that I needed to spend more time prioritizing my relationship with him.
As a result of this realization, any of the doubts or hesitations I had about being confirmed completely disappeared. I was comfortable and eager, and when the day finally came, it was perfect. Better than I could have ever asked for. I held back tears of joy as I watched my only son get baptized. Some of you may know that in an effort to grow in my relationship with God, I set for myself a goal to read through the Bible. As you can imagine, this is a work in progress and I still have a long way to go. But one thing I have learned throughout this whole experience is this: while the Bible can be used as a weapon, in the right hands it is a powerful and life-giving tool. I would have never come to this conclusion without Father Ryan’s guidance throughout this journey.
I want to finish with a story about what St. Michael’s has done for me. One day I took Elijah to the park to meet up with a friend. She asked me what was new, so I told her that we had started a new church. She quickly told me that she was not a church person, and that she saw religion as an excuse to judge people. Her friend who was with her agreed and went on to say that they had a lot of friends in the LGBTQ+ community. I started to tell them about the Episcopal faith, and how we affirm and include LGBTQ+, and how we welcome same-sex marriage, but I was very quickly shut down. They didn’t want to hear what I had to say. My friend said she was sure there were good churches out there but she had never found one. Ironically, in that moment I felt judged for my faith.
You may be wondering, what is the whole point to the story? Well I’ll tell you. The truth is, I had pretty much given up on church. Not God, just church. The difference between my friend and me, is that I was her a few months ago. Except I didn’t stop looking. And now I have found my church home.
From this experience I have learned that God always provides, and sometimes in the ways we least expect. I never believed it to be by accident that we ended up at St. Michael’s. God knew what he was doing. Now I can confidently say that this is the closest I’ve felt to God in my adult life.