By Ann Fowler

My family never went to church and I grew up without religion. But as an adult, I felt something was missing in my life. I wanted more; I longed for spiritual inspiration and growth, and a closer relationship with God, so I began to seek a church home. I visited churches of all denominations, and eventually found the Episcopal Church. That was when, in the late 1990s, I went to a service at Epiphany and met the rector Claiborne Jones. It was a nice visit, but I was still “shopping.” The Rev. John Westerhoff was offering a course on Episcopal church history at St. Luke’s and I wanted to attend it. I became quite comfortable at St. Luke’s, but when the course ended, and a building campaign moved services into the parish hall, I didn’t feel very connected any more. I returned to Epiphany. Neil Banfield greeted me in the parking lot and Betty Walton invited me into the church.  Claiborne surprised me with “Welcome back, Ann!” Even though I hadn’t been to Epiphany in a couple of months, she remembered my name! I knew I was home.

Claiborne had a knack for discovering the talents of parishioners and putting them to good use. At the time I was an artist working for Carter’s, the baby clothing company, and Claiborne asked me to create a coloring book of the stained‐glass windows as a fundraiser. She also asked me to draw spot illustrations of various parts of the church to be used in bulletins and the Star. She learned that my husband, Joel, liked to cook and asked him to help at the Epiphany picnic at Sweetwater State Park. By engaging us in these simple activities for the church, we became more committed members.

Soon I was teaching the first grade Sunday school class (Jimmy Rabb and Anna Democko were students!), joining various committees and guilds, participating in mission trips, and being called to serve on the vestry. It was through these ministries that I formed close relationships with other parishioners. If you aren’t already involved in an activity or program at Epiphany, I encourage you to do so. It’s a great way to meet people, grow in faith, and serve others and the church.

I’ve experienced deep emotions at Epiphany, laughed and had fun at parish events, and wept both in joy and in sorrow during beautiful services in the nave and on the Epiphany grounds. During hard times our bonds to a church can be broken or made stronger. I’ll never forget the love and support I received from parishioners when my father died in 2012. I had taken a break from church and wasn’t attending Epiphany regularly. But members comforted me as if I had never left. Benno also responded quickly after I was hit by a car while riding my bike in 2015, and I’ll always be grateful for his caring words during that painful recovery.

Time. Talent. Treasure. I give to Epiphany because I love the church and its people. I’ve been enriched by this community and I believe it’s my responsibility to give back. I’m a joyful giver. I give to support the outreach programs that I feel are essential to our church life. I give to make sure we have the resources to continue Christian formation for children and adults. I give to help our inspirational choir. I give to pay our clergy and staff. I give to maintain our buildings and grounds. I give so that we can do good in the world.