Monday, March 15, 2010


I thought it might be interesting to discuss the churches that Joni, Adam, and I have been to, and how each one has impacted our lives. I grew up in the Baptist church in my hometown of Gibbon. It was the same church Grandma and Grandpa Howard attended, probably from the time they arrived in Gibbon, and the same church mom and her siblings grew up with. Joni was raised in a Catholic family, although she never fully accepted all of the Catholic customs. It was basically the same for both of us, we grew up with the church, but turned away from it as soon as we were able.

It wasn’t until many years later, when Astri was born, that we decided it was time for us to start going to church again. We were living in Dallas at the time so there were plenty of churches to choose from. Too many really, we had no idea how to choose one. Neither of us was interested in joining a Catholic church. I was interested in Baptist churches, but understood that they would be different than the Baptist church I grew up with. I finally asked Aunt LeeDel for advice since she is “in the know” about some of the different denominations. She recommended the United Church of Christ, so we looked up UCC churches in our area and found one only a few miles from our apartment.

This was in February or maybe March of 2007. I remember the time well because I was on a long medical leave from work because of problems I was having with my eyes. It’s interesting to think about that time because it was so miserable having such poor vision, but what I wouldn't give to have that amount of vision now.

Anyway, we visited the UCC church and we both liked it immediately. It was a very small church which was a big plus for us, and the people were very warm and welcoming. There were potluck dinners once a month and they followed many of the same practices that the old Baptist church followed so I felt very much at home there. After about a year, however, we began to feel like we needed something more. The pastor was not a powerful speaker and his sermons just weren't speaking to us. Also, Adam wasn't getting much out of it. There were not many kids in the church, and hence there was not much of a youth program.

Then, during the summer of 2008, another nearby church, Grace church, began sending a group to our apartment complex every Saturday afternoon. It was a youth outreach program where they would play games and learn bible verses and win prizes. Adam got involved right away and became very enthusiastic about it which was a little surprising because he isn’t the type to get involved in things.

So the summer passed. In September of that year, I lost my job and we definitely felt that God needed to have a stronger presence in our lives. Grace church had a Halloween party for the kids in the community, and we decided to go have a look. We met a few people, most of whom Adam already knew, and really liked the feel of the whole thing. After talking it over, we decided to visit Grace for Sunday worship. Soon after that, we said our good-byes to the UCC church. The UCC church had served an important purpose for us in that it was a comfortable place for us to begin our journey toward Christ. After almost two years there, we were thirsty for more and definitely felt God urging us on to the next step.

Grace church was larger than the UCC, but not intimidatingly so. There are mega-churches in Dallas, large enough to seat my entire hometown and still not be half full. Grace was small enough to have a church family feel to it, but large enough to support an active youth program. Grace had something for all of us, powerful sermons for Joni and me, and a good youth group for Adam. We were attending regularly on Sundays, plus Wednesday evening services and youth meetings, and we even got involved in a bible study group. We felt that we had found a church that we could be happy in for a long time to come. God had other plans for us, however.

And I see that this story is going to be quite a bitlonger than I thought, so I think I will finish this tomorrow. I hope you’ll come back for the rest!

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Romans 12:5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

1 comment:

  1. But, but...what happened? What were the other plans??? :P
    I may not have accepted Catholicism as a child but I accepted the Lord and His saving grace. I carried that with me throughout my life's journey and when we met...I longed to have you a part of this great power of God.
    We can only grow as a family, with God in our lives.
    I love the man that you've become. :-)

    Looking forward to...the rest of the story.