Why do I give to Epiphany every month? Because I know everything I pledge will go toward the incredible programs the church offers and the day-to-day functions that support so many people in our community. The church has been a true lifesaver for me and my family through our time there. It offered gentle support even when I didn’t know I needed it.
I have my child to thank for bringing me to Church of the Epiphany 12 years ago. When my son Sam was a baby, he was best friends with Scarlett Anderson. Scarlett came to church every Sunday with her neighbor Sherry Wallace. One weekend, Sherry invited our family to attend. Sam went to Children’s Chapel with Scarlett (and my husband and I got to actually listen to a wonderful sermon from the new priest, Benno — it was revelatory to be without my toddler and to be free to LISTEN and participate in the service!!). Then Sam went to Godly Play (Sunday school), and we went to a parents group during the 10am hour and met the most amazing group of parents. There were parents who had kids in college, some who had grandkids, others who had kids in middle school and high school and ones who had littles like me. I learned SO MANY parenting tips during that one hour — things I’d never even considered about raising my child. Life hacks from other parents.. how to work patience and prayer into your every day life — tips on how to get little kids involved in family chores, taking responsibility and thinking of others. I was hooked. I immediately felt plugged into a community of people who wanted to share and support others. It was a connection to something I was craving at that time of my life.
I kept coming back and as a former Catholic, I was floored by the open atmosphere during church service and in adult formation class where questioning was allowed — even encouraged! I loved Benno’s thoughtful (and booming — the guy is not quiet! ) sermons, and I was amazed that EVERYONE was welcome at communion. I absolutely loved it that we were all invited to come up and receive a blessing or communion (or both). I immediately felt welcome and included… it was a much-needed breath of fresh air.
A couple years later, Sam got involved in children’s choir when Julie Ryder joined as musical director. We started attending dinner at church on Wednesdays after choir practice. We got more connected to the families in the church and so enjoyed the music and choir performances with the children. I especially loved that we could hear Benno’s voice rising above all others… he really SINGS during church services! It never failed to make me smile. And when the star above the organ would start to spin, it always seemed magical. I loved seeing everyone’s heads turn to watch.
Sam remained connected to Sunday school and choir and formed tight friendships with kids in the church his age. When we might have chosen to stay home and sleep in some Sundays, it was actually my kiddo who made sure we headed out the door to church. (let me be clear though.. as a teenager, this doesn’t happen so much anymore! Ha!)
Later, my family was rocked by a quick succession of health challenges within 3 months: I was diagnosed with breast cancer on Sept. 11th, my Mom was diagnosed with brain cancer on Christmas Eve and my son’s appendix ruptured January 3rd. My family was reeling. Through it all, the members of the Epiphany rallied around us with their support with meals, constant prayers and visits.. in fact, the first person to visit my son in the hospital was Sharon Hiers. I’ll never forget how appreciative I was to see a familiar face and to get a big hug. It was life-saving and grounding.
Now, I’m a member of the church leadership — I joined the vestry in January, and I’m an active member of our Women of Epiphany group — we just had a retreat with 40 women of all ages in North Georgia and it was FANTASTIC, fun and soul-refreshing! Sam is in the adult choir and is getting ready to go on a pilgrimage trip with the youth group to Memphis, Chicago and Charleston this Summer.. he’s beyond excited. My husband Jay is involved in adult formation and the men’s morning prayer group. There is support, connection and community for each member of my family. We joined each group on our own terms and when it was right for us. By making a monthly contribution to the church, I know that I’m helping all of these programs exist so they can help other people find what they may need… when they didn’t even know they needed it.