Jessica Haverland
FPC member

When many of the world’s comforts seemed to come to an abrupt end, FPC gave encouragement through virtual community worship.

I’m thankful to First Presbyterian in a way I doubt is widely known.  We’ve been FPC members for many years. My husband, Chris, and I were married at the church in an evening ceremony in April of 1998.  We’ve watched our children, Anna and Jake, grow up in the church through participation in the children’s choir, padding down the center aisle to children’s sermons, arriving early to happily grab ham biscuits in the Welcome Center and waving proudly at grandparents singing in the choir while straining to hear their distinct voices in each hymn.

As our children grew, they participated in then later volunteered for Kids Disciple Club, joined volunteer efforts at Hot Dish & Hope and completed Confirmation classes.  All in the arms of the church.

We’ve visited our beloved church just a handful of times since early 2020.  Those dear memories of years past have continued with others we couldn’t have imagined two years ago.  We’ve kept our physical distance purposefully.

Virtual churchgoing has benefits I’m not sure I’ve fully explored until putting pen to paper.  With teenagers at home, some members of the family are more alert than others before noon on a Sunday morning, but virtual church is as “come as you are” as it gets.

In pre-pandemic days, we would wait until reaching the car to discuss all we heard.  Virtual worship allows us to reflect immediately after a prayer or poignant sermon.  We can exclaim during the sermon in ways good, quiet Presbyterians don’t dare while in the sanctuary.  We can openly tear up when the spirit moves us.  While watching church on YouTube we can pause the service to discuss a topic in real time without skipping a beat.  It has enhanced our family’s discussions on faith and how we can apply it to our daily lives.

During the pandemic, I’ve been hungrier for faith-based support, kindness and generosity of spirit.  While simplistic, I see the church a bit like the tree in Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree.  I remember that book fondly from my childhood and loved reading it to my kids.  You’ll recall that it tells a tale of love between a boy and a tree.  The tree gave him great joy as a child, allowing him to play with her leaves, swing on her branches and eat her apples.  As the boy grew, the tree was often alone but was always anxious for a visit and was willing to give everything she had to earn time with her grown boy.

While we haven’t outgrown the church and never lost interest in visiting her, I see First Presbyterian as an old friend anxious to give all she can for those she’s loved.  And while we appreciate all that virtual churchgoing has & will continue to offer us, we very much look forward to coming back to FPC, being still in her presence and appreciating her with a renewed love.

Our church is vitally important to our family and we know its outreach is important to the community at large. We want the church to be there for us and for our children’s children, and joyfully give our time and our treasure to support it.

Commitment Sunday is November 21.