As an itinerant Episcopalian, son of a priest, I felt thankful when, after several years of wandering, I found a church with my first wife in Upper Manhattan. Sporting a new rector with impeccable Anglican blood lines, I thought I was set for life. I served as an acolyte and sang in the choir served two terms on the vestry. But like many things in life, it didn’t quite work out the way I thought it would. The new rector didn’t work out because, well, you know, life’s surprises can frequently derail a church. Dramatic events were occurring to me as well, and Lynne and I decided to leave Manhattan and try the boonies, so to speak. What I didn’t want to go through was the 360 degree commitment to the public life of the church. A dear friend of mine, who worked for Merrill and lived in Darien, suggested I find a big church with lots of people so I could remain as anonymous or public as I wanted.
Enter Christ Church Greenwich and Phil Ness, who was ushering at the Easter Vigil service the first day Lynne and I set foot inside Christ Church. My experience in Anglican churches is that sometimes they are not as welcoming as they could be. Not so Christ Church Greenwich! Phil was as enthusiastic about welcoming us as he would have if the Bushes had come that night.
That was 15 years ago and in that length of time, lots of life events have occurred at Christ Church Greenwich: our daughter, Pei Pei, arrived and was welcomed into the parish congregation with love and prayer. We gradually became more involved in the life of the parish. We experienced the same kind of loss that I had experienced in New York; the difference for me, at least, was the adhesive quality of the Christ Church congregation. It is the strongest statement Christians can make, the statement that no matter who comes and goes, the congregation stands together to uphold one another as Christ’s love upholds each one of us. It is certainly the most powerful and unique experience I have ever had, to feel the love of God expressed in the congregation of the faithful.
As a cradle Episcopalian, whose father served as senior warden while I was growing up, I was excited to join a parish again as an adult. Over the past 15 years Christ Church Greenwich has become my spiritual home. My faith has literally been turned inside out since we arrived during Holy Week more than 10 years ago. I’ve read the Bible, learned the art of theological reflection, deepened my understanding of Christianity and myself. The experience of participating first on the Newcomer’s Committee then joining EfM (a four year program of learning which strengthens lay members to live out their call to be Christ’s ministers in the world) and later serving on the Vestry has rooted me in the firmament of Christ Church. As Terry said above, the powerful faith expressed by members of the congregation – in ways large and small – has taught us both so much about what it means to be a Christian in 21st Century. Today, the Christ Church Greenwich community continues to strengthen my faith and inspire us through strong clergy and lay leadership. As I have often said, there are many reasons to stay at home (and in bed!) on a Sunday morning after an exhausting week at work. The power of community is what keeps me coming up 95 on a Sunday morning (and throughout the week). It is a gift from God to be part of it.
I like the bookstore and the food at the coffee hour.