May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 15:5-7 (NRSV)
When our family decided to leave the familiarity of our church in Canton just over a year ago to attend, serve on the staff (in Jon’s case), and ultimately join First Congregational Church, it required a leap of faith for all four of us. Despite the many clear signs that God had clearly guided us to work and worship in Hudson, it still took a strong dose of humility, determination and perseverance to leave the familiar and venture into something new. Needless to say, the realities of the pandemic (virtual meetings, online worship and social distancing, to name a few) didn’t leave us with much hope of feeling “at home” in the very near future.
Despite these apparent hindrances, each of us felt a Christ-like embrace of welcome much sooner and more genuinely than we had expected. From our virtual fellowship in a Nine@9 group to Henry’s warm welcome to the Children’s Center, all of us soon found a place of encouragement and harmony in our new church home.
Perhaps the most heartwarming experience for us has been how Ian, now 11 years old, almost immediately found a sense of home at FCCH. While culture makes many, oftentimes negative, assumptions about “pre-teens,” our church family took Ian’s heart that naturally was questioning our transition and gently helped him discover his servant’s heart. Through a personal invitation from Sue Wimer, Ian felt quickly welcomed to First Serve, finding great purpose and new intergenerational friendships. Seeing his interest in serving the church, Dan Gerbracht and Mark Cooper personally invited Ian to help with audio and video production for Sunday morning worship—including running new cables late one night under the chancel! For Ian, this wasn’t work…this was a purposeful sense of home.
Friends, from a family whose spiritual journey has been bolstered through your personal invitations and sincere desire to welcome others into your home, we thank you and want to encourage you during this Advent season to continue to welcome one another just as Christ has welcomed us—all for the glory of God.
Jon & Ian Peterson