For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Matthew 18:20 (KJV)
I came to First Congregational Church in search of a couple of baptisms, but I received something totally unexpected, instead.
As a child, my family went to church infrequently, mostly on major holidays. We were part of a Unitarian Fellowship for a bit, and my mom read us lots of Bible stories. During my teenage years we attended a United Church of Christ church, but then I went to college, my parents moved to a new town, and my 20-something-self took a cynical view of organized religion. I’d never felt strongly rooted to a church and it was easy to find all kinds of reasons to stay away.
Years passed, I got married, we had kids and they were two and four years old and not yet baptized. I had a nagging feeling that something important was missing. The combination of parental guilt and encouragement from my mom led me to visit First Congregational Church.
I remember sunlight streaming through the stained-glass windows of the sanctuary on the World Communion Sunday I visited and the familiar smell of candles burning. I remember getting goosebumps and feeling tears well up in my eyes as the organ music started and the congregation sang the opening hymn. I remember the warm welcome I received from those in the pews around me.
It felt like home. Just like that.
It didn’t matter that my prior relationship with church had been spotty or that my theological knowledge was thin. It didn’t matter that we came for the transactional purpose of getting our kids baptized. First Congregational Church welcomed us with open arms.
For the past 18 years this church has sustained me spiritually, intellectually and emotionally in ways my younger self never could have imagined. It has kept me grounded with support and care and love as my kids have grown up; as my husband and I have made career changes; as we’ve lost people we love.
I came in search of baptisms and discovered a sense of connection and belonging I didn’t know I was missing.
Church is, by definition, a communal activity. Community is the whole point. And being part of something bigger than ourselves? That’s an amazing feeling. The world can feel broken and divisive but here in this place—this community—we try to find wholeness.
I came to get my kids baptized and found a church home. My church home.
And for that, I’m grateful every single day.