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Telling Our Stories

In September 2015 the Vestry of Christ Church initiated a project we called "Telling Our Stories".  There were two goals.  We wanted to encourage members to explicitly articulate what it means to them to "be the Church" as a first step in being able to share the message of the Gospel with others, and we wanted to reinforce our appreciation and gratitude for our experience in being part of this faith community by reminding ourselves what we value about our tradition.  The testimonies we received are shared below, in no particular order.

1. There are many different reasons that lead people to church on   
    Sunday mornings. If a friend or family member asked you what
    leads you to church on Sunday mornings, what would you tell them?

    I found a place I am comfortable with emotionally and spiritually.  A   
    community that was not judgmental when was looking for a place raise my
    two children.  I am at ease when I am here.

    I come to church on Sunday to be part of the community that sustains me,
    grows me, and loves me so that I can pass that on to others - both at 
    Christ  Church and in the world - for refreshment and empowerment.
    (Karis)

    I am what is known as a "cradle Episcopalian". In each of our moves, we
    have tried to find an Episcopal church.  I try to go each Sunday to learn
    something new from the minister's sermon.  It helps me to be a good 
    Christian (Barbara)

   Those that pray together stay together. (Bob)

   Going to church revitalizes me.  It is a place to reflect and a peaceful place
   away from the daily stresses.  You meet good people and it establishes a
   foundation for your family (Lee)

   "Come unto me who travail and are heavy laden and I will refresh you" 
   Matthew II  Coming to church refreshes me, makes me feel good and gives
   me a better outlook on the week ahead.   I am a cradle Episcopalian and
   coming to church is what I do on Sunday mornings. (Sandy)

   Although I say my prayers at home daily and talk to God, somehow going to
   God's House provides a different atmosphere.  I feel closer to God in His
   house.  The whole atmosphere of the church is calming.  The church service
   comforts me even after a difficult week.  To be sharing God's love, in a
   group, is very comforting.

   Commitment.  I make time in my life to worship God and to thank God for
   all the blessings my family and I have received.  I ask for his Blessing and
   seek peace of mind, and pray for sustained good health for myself and my
   family. (Lois)

   I attend church every Sunday to learn more about the teachings of Jesus 
   Christ and to hear how my fellow Christians and I are following them.

   I first came to Christ Church because it is closer to my home at Thayer Pond
   Village than is the Church of the Reconciliation in Webster where I had
   attended.   I keep coming because the people are so friendly and took me to
   heart. (Maggie)

   I am at my most peaceful when I am in my church.  I don't get that same
   feeling in every church, but that feeling when I entered this church is what
   made me decide that this is where I need to be.

   I hadn't been attending church regularly and then I attended my grandson's
   Christening at Christ Church.  It was a lovely service, and I realized I had
   been missing something.  As I sat there I felt at peace with myself and God,
   and from that day on I started to attend church regularly.

   I've been a member of Christ Church for over 50 years.  I've made many
   friends there, it's nice to have the coffee hour so you get to meet other
   people in the church, which is very good for new people, and every(one) is
   very friendly.  I think it's nice we have E.C.W. and do a lot for our shut- ins
   and the Luncheon for Elders, which I know they all enjoy.  I don't attend
   church every Sunday but I believe in God, and that's the most important
   thing.  When I was younger I did a lot more in the church, but I do what I
   can. (Gertrude)

   Christ Church is a beautiful church.  People to welcome you into their fold -
   to listen to the service, music and quiet-ness from the busy world outside.

   [Why I come to church] is a complex question.  There is no one reason each
   Sunday.  Sometimes I go out of a sense of guilt, feeling I have not been for
   a while or for a dose of that divine forgiveness for doing some "of those
   things which we ought not to have done."  Sometimes I go for community,
   to stay connected to the wonderful community that exists at Christ Church. 
   There are other times when I have been through a busy, stressful time and
   want to refocus on things that might be more important than my daily
   trials.  I am sure there are other reasons as well but the point is that going
   to church offers a variety of "benefits" and most all of the time I come away 
   with something positive.

   I come for different reasons at different times.  Sometimes it is to feel
   renewed, and sometimes it is to be with my family.

   It's a good way for me to start off the week.  I makes me feel good all
   week:  it energizes me.

   I feel closer to God in church.  During the week I am praying at home or
   wherever, but I also think about the things I want to save up, knowing that
   on Sunday I can get on my knees and share them with God in a way that
   feels different to me.

   There's something so powerful about coming back, especially if I have been
   away for a few weeks.  Sometimes I actually feel like crying when I come
   back after being away.

   I feel the presence of God here.

   I love the ritual, the tradition, and the constancy.  It's really comforting to
   me that the Church is always here.  I love the ceremony, the rightness of it
   - how soothing it is.  It's just really comfortable.

   I find light here, especially after coming back to Church from a period of
   deep darkness.

   It's the best worship service in town.  We do good ritual, and we have good
   variety in what we do.

   I find Church really refreshing.

   I love the sense of continuity - the presence of people who have been here a
   long time.

 

2.    Many people feel strongly committed to Christ Episcopal Church regardless of
the number of times a year they might actually attend a service. Whether you attend every Sunday, every week of the year or whether you attend only a few services a year, what does being connected to Christ Episcopal Church mean to you?

A place of mutual respect and no judgment.

Christ Church is home in some really fundamental ways – in the words of Simon and Garfunkel – “home where my love lies waiting” – at least here on earth (Karis)

Because I am a new member, I haven’t become that involved.  We continue to attend because we like Molly and the friendliness of the members (Barbara and Bob)

I have a strong personal faith that has helped me through some tough personal and health issues.  I know my prayers and those from others have helped me get through these issues. (Lee)

A sense of tradition – the services, the hymns, the rites, Fellowship, friendship, and a chance to help and serve others, especially local needs. 

I like the chance to hear different preachers and local social topics relevant to the church (I love Chip’s historical sermons and Karis’ social preaching). (Sandy)

Attending a service with others makes you realize you are not alone in this world.  God is with you wherever you are.   You just need to be open to His blessings.

Being connected to people who feel and think like me for the most part.  A place of peace. (Lois)

As a Christian and member of the Episcopal Church, being connected to Christ Church in Rochdale permits me to worship with fellow Episcopalians and make new friends in Christ

 I love the music!  I come to sing “a new song”.  It just does me good to be able to join the chorus of voices and sing.

Through the mission efforts I feel we can help those beyond our walls.  It means being a part of a     larger family who worships joyfully around the table of the Lord. (Maggie)

It means many things to me – 1) I enjoy listening to what Molly has to say each week.  Her lessons bring back memories. 2) The people (from the very first day) have been so kind and helpful. 3) I love being a part of all the extras the church folks do for others.

I find Christ Church is very important to me and I attend every Sunday unless illness will prevent me from attending, or bad weather.  Christ Church is a part of my life.

I feel strongly committed to Christ Church because it’s so much like the Church of England where I was brought up and had my confirmation.  When I lived in Worcester I went to All Saints. (Gertrude)

The love of people and enjoying the service always. 

I have friends who go to church for the good of their kids, but they don’t love it.  We love it here.

I felt so welcomed when I came. 

As a retired person, the Church provides me a great opportunity to be of service.  There’s a great sense of mission here, and participating in it helps me to feel useful.

As the son of a minister, I grew up with the church literally in my back yard, so first of all there is a deep rooted connection.  But because I was so close to the church, there was a time I was away from it.  When I moved to Leicester and was contemplating marriage and raising a family I walked into Christ Church and it felt like coming home.  The sense of community is wonderful and it is not “high church”.  I am very proud of the Episcopal Church for its progressive stand on many social issues and Christ Church offers a connection to that broader institution.  There is also a great sense of history here.  This beautiful historic building has been through the Civil War, World War 1, the great depression, World War 2 and more. I often wonder what the discussions were like during these turbulent times.  Finally there is a great sense of global mission here and the church has done many, many things to try and make the world a better place. 

I am not one to favor a world of only coincidences blindly crossing paths, but I am not one to believe that the future is set in stone through fate either. To me both paths are absolutes, everything is either blind luck or concretely unchangeable. Neither of which appeal to me. I do, however believe in destiny. The destiny of finding that person that completes you, the destiny of finding a spiritual place to call home, or the destiny to find your purpose in life. That destiny may not always be clear and the path may be fraught with a dash of coincidence and a sprinkling of fate, but never completely swayed by one side of the equation. And destiny and purpose is what God gives us as a gift. To me, this is my view of life, my journey, and my faith.

      I am a big fan of simplicity and I have provided a few values that have been passed onto me by my parents that I view as the core traits of who I am and why I have faith. Ideas that led me down the path to finding Christ Episcopal Church. They are:

Number one – Believe in something greater than you. This does not have to be defined at first, like a seed it will grow toward the sun.

Number two – Help those less fortunate than yourself.

Number three – Always try to better yourself and learn from your mistakes.

       So destiny helped me find my soul-mate, who brought me to the doorsteps of this church. She was looking for a church in the area and I have been looking for a church community to call my home for many years. We chose this place because the people are welcoming, the building is rich with history, and provides a solid foundation for our growing family. We share time together with all those who attend believing in something greater than ourselves, we find ways to help others that are less fortunate, and we all try to look inward to learn and grow as human beings. This is what Christ Church Episcopal Church is to me.     

3. Finally, if you came across someone who was new to the area and said they were
    looking for a church to call "home," what might be a couple of things you would
    say about Christ Episcopal Church as a possible church community they might
    enjoy?

    There is no pressure/no guilt - everyone is very open and welcoming.  A great place for
    children and adults, young and old alike.

    We are happy, joyful Christians who will love you into the fullness of life. Come! (Karis)

    We already have talked with people about coming to Christ Church.  The friendliness.
    (Barbara and Bob)

    Friendly people, open to new ideas, happy religious medium between traditional
    teaching and modern realty, no pressure to conform (Lee)

    I was new to the area 2 years ago.  After unpacking and rearranging furniture I
    wondered what to do - no family here, no friends, no kids in school.  How do I integrate  
    into the community?  My husband suggested to find a church.  I put a plan in place to
    visit 4 parishes - 2 in Worcester, 1 in Auburn, and Christ Church.  I chose to go to Christ
    Church first.  On a brisk Sunday in October,  I walked up and was met by a tall, thin,
    nice-looking guy who handed me a program and said welcome.  I looked into the
    church and noticed the box pews and asked him if I had to pay for a pew.  He laughed
    and said the Church had stopped that years ago and he brought me over to sit with a
    lovely lady, who graciously took my hand, put her arm around me and said "I'm so glad
    you are here!  Join us."  It was Brian and Doris Cherry's great kindness and warmth
    which made me throw my plan away and join Christ Church immediately.  The
    friendliness, openness, volunteerism in this church is commendable.  I have made
    friends here, been accepted here, and no longer feel like a stranger in this community.
    (Sandy)

    I would say Christ Episcopal Church members are very friendly.  They have a true love
    for God and God's people.  They are happy that you have come to their church and
    they welcome you.  Basically you feel "wanted" when you come to Christ Episcopal
    Church.  My first church as a child had a wonderful, caring priest who made me feel
    good and wanted.  Christ Episcopal Church has the same atmosphere.  We have a
    wonderful caring priest.  I love God and I love Christ Episcopal Church and its members
    because of the loving, caring atmosphere.

    Christ Church is a great small community of Christians where getting one's children
    rooted in faith is a good start.  My children always felt privileged being able to say they
    had church friends and school friends. (Lois)

    The congregation will welcome you with open arms.  Come, too, and enjoy the
    wonderful music.  We are not a "closed" church.  We have outreach and mission
    opportunities at home and abroad.  Last but not least, come and learn from our pastor
    and priest, Molly Scherm.  (Maggie)

    The community atmosphere that completely surrounds you as a part of the
    congregation.  The feeling of welcomeness from everyone you meet.  You do feel you
    are "home" when you come through the doors. 

    I would suggest attending a service at Christ Church and find the warmness of the
    members of the church and nearness of God, as I have.

    They would enjoy to make friends and meet people at the coffee hour.  If you only want
    to go to church, no (one) will talk you into anything you don't want to do. (Gertrude)

    You will be very welcome and the experience will help you to find peace and friendship.

    Christ Church Rochdale does light really well.

    It's friendly, it's warm, and it has great music.

    I tell people it's halfway between the Roman Catholic and the Protestant - it has the
    ritual, but is liberal and open.

    It's also democratic - WE control where the Church is going, not some outside authority.

    We have tradition, but we are not rigid.

    Again, the welcoming community is a great asset and it should not take long for
    newcomers to feel comfortable here, but one of the
other things I really like about this
    church is that it is not, and for as long as I have been here has not, preached dogma. 
   There is not a sense of "you must live your life a certain way or you are forever
    damned.  "  There is the freedom to explore one's faith and interpret things in different 
    ways.  You can bring your questions and doubts without feeling threatened.  I think this
    is very important.

Other comments:

Great youth ministries, good outreach for disabled, interesting topics (Lee)

Thousands of Christians have prayed and worshipped within our Christ Church walls.  The believers who built this building were obviously passionate and totally committed to their cause.  I truly feel committed to being as best of a "good steward" as possible in respect to our founders spiritual passion.  Christ Episcopal Church is truly Holy Ground and I feel spiritually connected.(Lois)

The best thing I ever did for myself was to walk through the doors of Christ Episcopal Church 3 years ago.  I finally found where I truly belonged.  Thank You Everyone.

As long as I live in Leicester I will always belong to Christ Church.  I enjoy everything we do and I think it's wonderful to help people that belong at the church. (Gertrude)

In 1954, the mailman George Emelt told me about Christ Church - great news!  Over the years my children were baptized, confirmed, enjoyed Church School and camped at Bement.  I enjoyed the Episcopal Church Women's meetings and led it for a year or more. (I) Liked working on the Altar Guild (and) the marvelous experience of being a Eucharistic Minister and reader.  After 61 years, many wonderful memories, I still miss it.  I love all those memories.  At 91, I still love to be in Christ Church.  God Bless you all and thank you.