Nostalgic moments seem to dominate my mind these days.
I just returned from time with my New Orleans family. I received the gift of a new book. It is called Welcome Corner: A New History of St. Charles Avenue Presbyterian Church. Written by the recently retired senior pastor Rev. Dr. Don Frampton, my first real boss after college, it tells a beautiful story of how Presbyterians have made their presence known in a predominantly Roman Catholic city.
What gives me greatest pause is the fact that my Pop’s grandparents were founding members of this church. They were owners of the Carnahan Dairy and lived near Tulane University in New Orleans. They took great pride in being Christians and raised their daughter Cornelia (I knew her as “Grand Mommy” AND she is Ce Ce’s namesake) and their grandson Charles (my Pop) in the “Presbyterian flavored” Christian tradition. My Pop and mom continued that tradition by raising our blended family there. Today, it makes me smile that my 23-year-old nephew Wes is a faithful Sunday morning usher.
Reading through that book, my breath was taken away because I KNEW every single leader mentioned from the past fifty years! It included pastors who preached on Sunday mornings, Sunday School teachers who taught me Bible stories, the older adult woman assigned to be my confirmation mentor, and the first ever female pastor, the youth pastor, who was integral to helping me discern that I wanted to be a pastor too. After my mother died while I was a senior in college, the interim pastor tenderly cared for our family. He followed up with me in the months following her funeral. He guided me back home to be the youth director at this church that had loved me and shaped me as a child and young adult.
My nostalgic moments turned from sentimental into a powerful reminder that faith community matters. These adults from my childhood and teenage years took time to be present, to teach, to lead by example, and to listen. They guided and buoyed me as a child of that faith community in my own Christian formation. Their faith grounded them, and, in turn, it informed them how important it was to pass the faith on to the next generation.
I recently shared with our FPC staff that as a child the messages I always received from the faith community were that I was unconditionally loved by God, made in the image of God, and that I had been endowed with God given gifts to use to love God’s people and glorify God. While life has been far from perfect, I give thanks to God that what was modeled for me is that, when I am seeking wisdom or support, I am to turn to the people in my faith community. This is where we are unconditionally loved.
As FPC approaches our 200th anniversary (founded in 1824), and we share the story of how we have been and will continue to be beacons of light in Greensboro, I am curious for you, who was a formative adult Christian leader? AND… how is God calling you to be a formative Christian leader for others?
Faith community matters.