A Pastor Reflects on Home

Everything looks different than it did in 1985—but you know that. There are new office complexes, retail shops, and residential developments taking the place of whatever it was that used to be there that I suspect I would have recognized. The big football field is supposed to be Memorial Stadium. Where did the A&P go? But in the midst of the unfamiliar surroundings of my old home city, I always can spot a church that looks just the way I remembered it. I am trying to decide if that is comforting or concerning, but the comforting part is taking the initial lead.

Of course, a church is not constructed of brick and mortar, but of the people who gather there for worship and of the things their faith leads them to do there and when they step out into the community. It has been overwhelming in every good way to find myself back in the Charlotte community and seeing these familiar churches has made me realize how deeply many churches mattered in my life before I committed my professional life to serving God in some of them in other places.

I grew up at Covenant Presbyterian, which is why I love going to Church. I attribute a tremendous amount of my upbringing to the adults there who took an interest in my life and that of my friends providing Christian education, mission experiences, healthy peer groups, leadership opportunities, and a good bit of fun to go along with the knowledge that if I ever needed anything, my church family was there for me.

However, there are all these other churches bringing back memories. Cathedral of St. Patrick’s hosted all the basketball games for our middle school church league. I went to Myers Park Presbyterian for Cub Scouts. I played baseball on Trinity Presbyterian’s field as a kid and, as a teenager, one of Trinity’s associate pastors played a meaningful part in my discernment of a call to ministry on a retreat. My Boy Scout troop met at Westminster Presbyterian before it moved to Christ Episcopal, where my mother taught kindergarten for 30 years and where I played pickup basketball as often as possible. This was also where I had dance class, so not all of my memories are fond—less fond surely for the unfortunate young ladies stuck with me as a partner. In college, I experienced a life-changing summer internship with Dr. George Battle at Gethsemane AME Zion. While in seminary, the first church I ever preached in was Amity Presbyterian. (Thank you for your patience.) The pastor at First Presbyterian during my childhood would become my mentor at a church in Knoxville. I do not think I would have ended up there if he and I had not each spent time here.

Before moving back, I had never fully understood how hard Christ’s Church and churches in Charlotte had worked to look out for me and guide me. If I had never been gone, I might have missed it, too.

Now I serve at Sardis Presbyterian, which was geographically exempt from participating in my childhood by virtue of being just beyond the southeast corner of where my known world stretched, that being the intersection of Providence and Fairview. On Sundays I see the kids and youth showing up here for Sunday school and youth group with the adults who have made a sacred commitment to them. Weekdays I see the two Boy Scout troops or the Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, many basketball teams, preschoolers, choirs, Bible studies, or members heading off to help out at Rama Road Elementary and I am gaining a better understanding of how much the faith community can matter to our children when all communities of faith open their doors and hearts to everyone for everything.

What I am really doing is remembering how much so many have meant to me. It is a little late, but “Thank you.” It is good to be home and God is good.

Comments

  1. There is much gratefulness in these words. If we raise children in the church with support and nurture, our prayers for their future can be answered.

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  2. Such a great post! Thanks for sharing. I, too, have had positive experiences at so many churches in the Queen City. I have learned a great deal from leaders and congregants alike.

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