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Sylvia’s Story

I grew up in an Evangelical United Brethren church, an off-shoot of the Mennonites. I was at church at least five out of seven days a week! It was our social life—and it was absolutely wonderful. I can’t think of a childhood that was better than mine. We had no money, but it was so wonderful because everyone circled around the church and lived as Christ’s servants. People were genuine in their faith and desire to follow God.

Volunteering is in my blood. I grew up in a small town where if you didn’t volunteer, things didn’t get done. So I know how important it is. But I think what is most important to me is something that Pope Francis has said: Faith isn’t something we possess, it’s something we share. And so demonstrating that faith and working with people, being there for people . . . I think it’s what I’m all about. In Romans we read about how God has given people different talents and ways to serve. I am not musical or technical, but I feel I am serving best when I am serving other people.  I get so much more back from volunteering than I ever give.

When I retired in 2017, I volunteered to be a greeter on the First Impressions Team. And I knew immediately that I wanted to start participating in Bible studies at church, which I couldn’t do before because of working full time. I started with Women in the Word, and I was placed in a group of brand-new attenders. I am in awe of all of the wonderful women in this group! They are so intelligent and insightful and helpful in each other’s faith journeys. We really bonded, and after that first year, the leadership of WITW asked us if we would take over for the next year. Together we handle all the logistics—recruiting, choosing the study material, and greeting and organizing each gathering.

With COVID, we’ve done a hybrid way of meeting this year. Some have elected to meet at church, and the others are meeting by Zoom. We are grateful that Zoom is an option, but everyone is chomping at the bit to get back in person! Our experience together isn’t just the time in study, it’s also the social interaction, the hugging, the listening to stories. We are hoping that this spring will be the last time we have to use Zoom and we’ll be back together—because we also have fantastic breakfasts!

Serving has connected me with others in such a meaningful way. It’s so energizing both to help others and to work alongside others who are volunteering, to witness how happily they give, to be encouraged by them, and to be listened to.

I’ve also been served by the church this year through grief support. My son took his life a year ago. It’s been a terrible year, and with COVID, we couldn’t interact with anyone—there wasn’t any personal touch or way to grieve. But the church was so fantastic, and the grief group has been so amazing. As much as I have given to the church, the church has given to me ten-fold. If you want to know Jesus in a deeper way and fill your life with purpose, you should seize the opportunity to serve. Everyone is welcome, everyone has their own gifts, and there’s a place for those gifts at CPC.