Joan’s Journey continued

My husband and I met while I was in college. By this time I had stopped calling myself an atheist but I wasn’t going to church and had no real interest in God. After several years of marriage we went through a rough patch in our relationship. Terry wanted to go to graduate school, while I was anxious to buy a home and start a family.  Our short term goals were different and this caused a big conflict. We finally decided that Terry would continue in school, and we moved to Montgomery County, midway between my job and his college. At this point, Terry suggested we join a church.  I guess we both felt this might put our relationship on firmer ground. Terry’s family church was large and I felt disconnected from the service. All we did was sit in the pew and listen to others speaking or singing.  The way I had learned to “do” church was Lutheran, so I told Terry that’s what I wanted to be. After some research he settled on the Missouri Synod because they believed in Biblical inerrancy.  Any Lutheran church was fine with me –I didn’t know there were different kinds of Lutherans.  We joined a church nearby and I was happy to be back in worshipping in a familiar service.  We attended church regularly, but weren’t active in other activities.

A year later we moved back to Frederick because we found we weren’t close to anything or anyone important to us.  We bought a house. Terry had a long commute but at least we were close to friends, family and my workplace.  The only Missouri Synod church in Frederick was a small mission congregation meeting in a Community building, so we went there.  I wasn’t too thrilled.  I preferred the big Lutheran Church downtown with it’s beautiful facility.  But God knew what I needed.  I was quiet and shy.  Had we joined that large, established church, I would have become a pew sitter.  In a mission congregation, you can’t do that.  Everyone is needed, everybody knows you and you can’t hide.  If Nancy was my soul friend, and Terry was my soul mate, Peace In Christ became my school of spiritual formation.

I was elected church council secretary at my first voter’s meeting.  How terrifying!  For months I hardly opened my mouth, and I tried not to miss a single word in my minutes! Finally, I relaxed, realizing that nobody was out to judge my job performance.  In fact, a friend there once told me that “church is the best place to try something new.  If you fail, they’ll still love you.”

Our pastor became a friend.  He knew his parishioners well, and encouraged me to use my gifts and stretch my comfort zone.  After we had children and they started Sunday School, we went too.  For the first time, as an adult, I studied the Bible regularly and found that knowing Sunday School stories from childhood, and bible history from college courses, did NOT mean I knew it all.  I met Christians who applied the Bible to their lives and I started to do that too. I can’t begin list the activities that helped me grow spiritually, so I’ll mention a few “high spots.”

Terry and I read the entire Bible in a 2 year program called Crossways.

We went on Marriage Encounter weekend and a Via De Cristo Christian retreat weekend.  Both had follow up small group meetings in which we participated.

.We taught Sunday School, I worked on the church newsletter and wrote VBS programs, and Terry was an elder. We were busy with church and our friends there constantly.  I began to see myself as a mature Christian and a congregational leader.

to be continued further …..

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