When I first came across this site, there were no entries and I thought, "I love the Church of the Brethren, I can write an article." Here I am trying to write something in 1,000 words or less and finding it difficult because there are so many reasons why I love the Church of the Brethren.
I think what I love best is the community of believers and the fellowship that grows out of it. Growing up in York Center Church of the Brethren (Lombard, IL), I was exposed to many different types of people who were involved in the church. Bethany Seminary was nearby and my life was enriched by all that were involved at York Center COB.
Some of my first memories include people and events of the church. From Sunday School and an occasional Vacation Bible school as a child, to Jr. & Sr. High School retreats and seminars, all help shape my sense of being a part of a faith community. District and Annual Conferences helped me tie into the larger community of faith. The encouragement to participate came not only from my parents but Youth Leaders and Church Members who knew the value of experiencing God in many ways. As a young adult, I was encouraged to use my gifts in the church. Even when I said no, it did not discourage someone to continue to ask.
People sometimes say that entering into a church community with members who have generations of history with the church is difficult. I suppose it may be, but as a second generation COB member I have found that despite the lack of history I am still very much connected and a member of the larger church faith community. I feel this is due to a faith community that nurtured (and still nurtures) me. A community that provided (and still provides) experiences to continue my spiritual growth.
On March 2, 1998, Faith COB (Batavia, IL) had a fire in its sanctuary. I was named volunteer cleanup coordinator. From March 2nd to this very day you read this page, I am experiencing the community of Christian Fellowship in ways that is hard to explain. As with many of the ways of God, there is much mystery and one can only experience it to believe it.
On March 2nd, I came home around 10:30 a.m. to find messages on my answering machine about the fire at Faith Church. As we began to try to contact our part-time Pastor (who was at a meeting), the COB my parents attend was contacted. The secretary there was aware of my membership at Faith Church and contacted my parents.
After dropping my son off at preschool, I stopped by the church. There I found members of our congregation gathered and firemen still present. I also found the Naperville COB Pastor there being present with us and praying with us. She was aware that our Pastor was on her way but Pastor Scott came out to be Christ's presence among us.
After picking up my son from preschool, I returned home to find my parents. They knew Jim and I had found our church home at Faith Church. They wanted to be sure that I had been informed of the fire and if I needed any extra support they were there for me.
Within the week, as the volunteer coordinator, I had received many phone calls, letters, and offers of help. What was most surprising to me was that I could put a face to most of the names that were calling or writing with offers of help.
As the weeks go by we continue as a faith community to rely on the prayers and help of others to pull us through this crisis. I have been overwhelmed by the love and concern shown to us. We are a small congregation. On any given cleanup day we have had from 2-5 times as members of neighboring COB congregations for every one of our members of Faith COB.
I love the Church of the Brethren for striving to live as God's people on this Earth.