How the Church Changed my life, and yes, how the church changed me.
The church has been my rock. The church has always been a solid foundation for me. One place I could always come back to and it did not matter why I was absent or for how long. My parents set this firm foundation, and like Trevor’s story, ‘as a kid I did not know any other thing.’ I have perfect-attendance certificates that are artifacts now, a little brittle and a collection of pins that kept records of the perfect attendance years. Even as a rebellious teen, I still attended church singing in the choir, teaching Sunday school and getting confirmed.
This constant in my life would keep me grounded even when my life spun out of control.
I have been fortunate as I have two churches. My country church, Morris United Church and my city church, where I have been able to call both family. But since moving my membership to Fort Garry in 1982 I have invested in my city church which I now call my home church.
have so many interesting and heart-warming stories of how my life intersected with church. I was the first baby baptised in the newly built Morris United Church and our family has a pew plaque with The Jorgenson Family on it on account my Father helped build the church. At Christmas time we can easily fill this pew and a few more. A favourite memory was when it was your birthday you got to go up to the Alter and put your birthday-age pennies in a beautiful ceramic deer bank. This was a long running tradition in our country church along with the memory of the most beloved Reverend McLeod.
Many years later, I will never forget the day my daughter Jillian was hit by a car while riding home from school on her bike. My sisters were with me at the Health Sciences Centre while waiting for the surgery to end, but after long hours they needed to get home. While I sat alone in the middle of the night (Rev.) Gordon Taylor showed up; seemed like an angel, a light in the darkness. In the months and years that followed I received much help from my friends at Fort Garry. A year after the accident I had placed flowers in the church in Jillian’s name; someone asked if she had died. I said “No” I was celebrating a life.
I had to write a biography to get into Seminary, for my Masters of Divinity. I certainly did not think I had a great record but what they read was enough to know that I have been grounded in the life of the Church. It was in the process of writing my entrance bio I realized God had been directing me all my life, willing to take me back into the fold and asking me to step up even more. I would finally succumb to a calling. The exercise in reflecting and writing I saw God’s hand; always gently drawing me back to the church. I was surprised to see I did have a pretty good record, I was a good person. In this the church afforded me the reference I needed and I in return I committed my life’s work to God.
A requirement for employment as Chaplain at Concordia Hospital is to have the support of your home church. Some of you may remember that YOU and I are covenanted; as a congregation you have promised to keep me in line; thank-you for this trust and support. Again, if not for the church community I have here with you, I would not be able to fulfill my vocation. The church continues to challenge me, to be the person God intended me to be. There were many times that I would have wiped the dust off my sandals and walked away, but God knew that I needed to stay.
The one last story I would like to share with you happened in 1997. Our EMO-Emergency Measures Officer for Fort Garry United Church organized a crew of sandbaggers. First, to help on South Drive in the morning, come back to the church basement for lunch, and then head back out to help at another location in the afternoon. I walked into the upper-hall entrance wearing old blue jeans and a sweatshirt, a baseball hat and in rubber boots. Before we headed out we were introduced to the few guest sandbaggers. And that was when I was introduced to one Douglas Bedford.
God is good! This man was a prayer answered although I did not know this at the time. I am so very grateful Doug has adopted Fort Garry and made it his home.
I am a better person having Doug as a partner.
I have a career, vocation thanks to the church.
I have a faith community that has shaped me, challenged me and helped me grow in my faith.
How could I not be changed?