Thriving Congregations Initiative

Reimagining Church

New Models for the 21st Century

Being brought back

Being brought back

By Renee, Grace & St. John’s (Hamden)

I’m trying to remember several things as I start this. Why did I agree to be part of this re-imagining church group? Why did I agree to write something for the aforesaid group? Why did I think I have – or had – something to offer?

I’m a sort-of newbie – to church, to the Episcopal Church and to this particular Episcopal parish. I was baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic church but ditched that – with my parents’ blessing – when I was in high school. After many years away from any kind of organized religion, a medical crisis and a dream that involved me sitting next to God (on the left side!) brought me back to church worship.

That church I first joined merged with another parish in 2022 thanks to dwindling numbers - that slow, sad drain that happens to far too many churches. Happily, our small church in Yalesville found a great new home with Grace & St John’s in Hamden.

And while worship has made a huge and happy difference in my life, why did I think I had something to offer? Most of our group – and probably the other groups too – is composed of people who’ve been very involved in the spiritual lives of their churches. Our group includes worship leaders, Sunday school teachers, chaplains; perhaps I’m here under false pretenses? But then again, I’m probably here because I’m meant to be; because the Holy Spirit thought I have something to offer. And maybe those things I see as negatives are actually positives. Like many people, I gave up on church at one point – but I came back.

Like many people, I gave up on the faith tradition in which I was raised – but found another faith community that sustains me. The question I wrestle with (even before our cohort was formed) is how best to share what I’ve found in church with people who don’t even realize what they’ve lost by not being part of a faith community.

Listening to God changed my life by bringing me back to church. Following where Christ led brought two parishes together. Listening to the Holy Spirit brought me to this group. The gift of discernment, of prayer and listening, will help us hear that still, small voice whispering where and how He wants us to go next.