My name is Cynthia Damer and I have been a member of this fellowship for 6 years. I serve this fellowship as a member of the RE committee, the choir, and as a RE teacher.
Every Monday morning when I arrive at work, my friend and colleague who has an office next to mine asks me, “What’d you do this weekend?”. I usually rattle off all the things I did (which rarely includes any thing that would be considered just relaxing and usually includes activities associated with this fellowship - a sleepover with the elementary kids, a variety show, a luncheon, Sunday service).
Sometimes, after a particularly busy weekend, he asks me, “Why?”. He knows I have more than a full time job and that I’m very busy with all the appointments and activities of my three kids and he also knows that I'm not really a spiritual person. I’m not particularly interested in thinking about whether there’s a god or gods or not. So, why do I come here every Sunday morning? Why do I spend time outside of Sunday morning with this fellowship? And why do I give money to this fellowship?
Every once in a while, after a very busy weekend, I have a hard time coming up with a good answer. I think to myself, I could use that money for something else or I could use that time for something else. However, when he asks, I always give him an answer.
Sometimes I say, I come for the music. Once a week, I get to hear Beth play beautiful pieces on the piano and I get to sing hymns and I get to sing in the choir.
Sometimes I say, I come for the words. Once a week, I get to hear words put together in beautiful ways. I get to listen to poetry, to children stories, and to readings and sermons that challenge me to think in different ways.
Sometimes I say, I come for my children. I want my children to be in a place where they can be who they are, and they can learn about relationships with other people through curriculums like OWL and Race to Justice.
Sometimes I say, I come for my mother. Music and church have always been a huge part of her life. And since she’s moved here, I want to make sure she still has both of these in her life.
But usually I say, I come for the community. His typical response to that is, “But you have us”, meaning all my friends in the department. And he’s right; I do have many wonderful friends in my department. They are generous and caring people, just like the people here. I have found out over the last few years, that they are willing to help me out whenever I need it, just like the people here. So, why do I want this community too?
Many of my friends outside this community are part of other religious communities. They are part of religions that do not support gender equality, that do not allow women to become leaders in the church, religions that do not allow people to be who they truly are. And even though I’m sure my friends outside this community would say that they believed in” the worth and dignity of every person”, I have a hard time understanding how they are part of a religion that does not.
I come here because I want to be a part of a community that truly is “standing on the side of love.”