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One of my favorite hymns starts out, “I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew/he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me/it was not I that found, O Savior true/no, I was found of thee.” I pledge at St. Paul’s each stewardship season because it is here that I finally discovered the relationship with God that I’d always longed for.
When I was growing up, religion wasn’t part of my life. Though my parents were nominally Christian, we almost never went to church. Nobody I knew was a practicing Christian. In my liberal hometown, most people looked on Christians with a degree of suspicion.
But as I got older, I started feeling increasingly like religion was something important that was missing in my life. When I moved to DC for law school, I decided to try out going to church, but since I didn’t know anybody at the churches I visited and I lacked a foundation in Christianity, I had trouble feeling at home at those churches.
I first learned about St. Paul’s through Jack, now my husband, who was a parishioner when we started dating. He talked about Christianity and about St. Paul’s frequently – not in a pushy, proselytizing way, but in an open, enthusiastic way that made me want to know more. He offered me an open invitation to join him for Mass any time I wanted, and eventually I took him up on it.
And of course, once I got to St. Paul’s, I was hooked. The church is so beautiful, the music is so moving, the people are so warm, and Mass is celebrated with a combination of solemnity and mystery that’s absolutely intoxicating. I couldn’t stop thinking about that Mass all the following week, and I’ve been coming to St. Paul’s every week since that first Sunday I visited.
Knowing a current parishioner was critical to my getting integrated into the church. Jack acted as my coffee hour buddy so I could meet people without feeling awkward. He sat with me for the first few Masses I attended so I wouldn’t get lost in the leaflets, music inserts, and Mass booklets. And when I decided I wanted to get baptized, he helped make that happen. The result of Jack’s gentle evangelism is that St. Paul’s is now an important part of my life.
We at St. Paul’s have so much to offer, including for people like me who were unchurched but sense vaguely that something is missing. St. Paul’s is a place to experience Christ’s peace, to be inspired, and to find God in a new and special way. And so my family and I continue to pledge each stewardship season, so that future generations of people can find this place and come to know how special it is.