Faith Stories: An Ordinary United Methodist
I am fascinated when I listen to friends in the Sojourners Sunday School class tell how their lives were changed when they discovered religion and became active in the United Methodist Church. Each time I compare my story to theirs, I realize that I was just an ordinary Methodist whose parents took me to church with my brother soon after I was born. As a child, I learned that we would attend every Sunday service, Sunday School, and Wednesday prayer meeting. And this has been my involvement in the church all these 81 years.
When I look back on how I became a Christian, it is necessary for me to remember just what was significant enough for me to care about being active in church while I actually had no choice but to attend because my parents insisted that we be present when the doors opened. Then I remember the things that changed in my life that caused me to want to be an active participant.
First, my parents demonstrated what the church meant to them. My father worked 6 days a week at a small grocery store from daylight to dark. He always loved it when children would come to the store. On Sunday, he loved to sing in the choir. In our lives he was a kind man who had a great sense of humor. Although we lived in a segregated community, his work friend was the African American delivery man who had served in the war. They liked each other so much that the friend named one of his children after me.
Mother was in the UMW and they were as active as the members of our church today. She and her sister grew up in many different homes as a child because their mother died when they were quite young. Her father had several failed marriages and was not a role model. I knew of their story yet observed that my parents were determined to have a stable marriage and assure that we received good parenting.
Church is where I met friends my age who were important in my life. We went to church camp together. We sang in the choir. Every Sunday night after the service, we would have folk dancing or play games.
Church was where I learned that there were families less fortunate than us so we would gather food baskets for them….just like St. John’s does on a grander scale.
During World War II, there was not enough housing in our small town for soldiers and their wives. Our minister and most of the church members opened our homes to them. We would see these couples separated when the husband was shipped overseas. I observed the way my parents became temporary parents to some of these families. A number of families remained in touch with us through the years.
In college, there was Wesley Foundation where I met my wife, Yvonne, who also grew up in the church. After college, Yvonne became a teacher and I became a social worker. Now that we are retired, we try to be at church every Sunday, participate in programs to help others, enjoy being with our church friends, appreciate our caring minister, and just love the members of the Sojourners class.
We are just ordinary Methodists.