Dear Church of the Redeemer –
It’s not easy to move away from a church family that you have known and grown with for 16 years.
One of my earliest fond memories of Redeemer was after we must have been coming for a few months. As we were milling around the foyer at Sun Valley, one of the teenagers at the time, Kevin Garrett (son of David and Joan), came up to give Strider, who was 3 at the time, a high-five, and kissed little 1-year-old Rayna on the head. I remember thinking a church where the teenagers care for the babies is a place where I want to be.
Not long after, that little baby girl of ours started displaying some alarming health problems and I was so scared and felt very fragile. As soon as the church leadership became aware of the situation, they quickly gathered around us to pray. As I looked around at all of the elders (I think there were 4 at the time) and the pastor praying for our daughter with such compassion and tenderness and anointing her with oil, I knew this was a place where I wanted to be.
When the pastor and his wife invited our family over for lunch after church a few months later and I looked at Elizabeth and felt like I could just cry on the spot and she would be a safe person to bear my burdens, I knew we were among family.
It took us awhile, though, to really dive in…. Having young kids made us want to sit in the back, and being overwhelmed with life made us hesitant to join much. But after about a year, the leader of the women’s ministry approached me seemingly out of the blue and asked me to host and lead a women’s Bible study. That was when I came alive and felt like we belonged. (And it was in that group that I made some of the best friends, including Melissa Hines, a sweet, newlywed fresh out of college, teaching in her first classroom!)
I could re-count time after time when the family at Redeemer stepped in to help us in ways we needed and cherished…. Ministering to us after a miscarriage, caring for us when a child was in the hospital (both of those were actually in the same week), coming alongside us when we needed help parenting or advice in decisions we had to make.
It will be hard to leave this family. And, it will be especially hard to leave the family-in-the-family… Getting to worship with my brother, his wife and kids has been one of the biggest blessings (I never appreciated going to church with my siblings when I was little, but now I do!) Sitting in his Sunday School classes and learning wisdom from my younger-but-elder brother has been mind-blowing.
Thank you, COR, for serving us, helping us, teaching us, putting up with us and pulling us in. As I’ve remarked many times, long-time church membership seems to be a fading phenomenon, but for those of us who have lived it, it is one of the most beautiful and precious gifts on earth.
You will always have a spot at the COR of our hearts. 😊