On a Sunday in the late 1960s I decided to start my search for a church home. We had just moved to Little Rock where my then husband was the new Commissioner of Corrections under Governor Winthrop Rockefeller. So I dressed for church in what I was used to wearing in West Virginia – one of my big hats and dress gloves as well as Sunday clothes. Well, so much for sneaking in to give a new church the once over and decided if Faith was the church for us. Lucky for me, my search was over and Faith has continued to be the church for me. The folks at Faith are so accepting, so full of grace, it is a happy place. I was raised a Methodist and became a Lutheran when I married – an easy transition.
It was easy to find a teaching job for me because that was the year that Little Rock started integration of elementary teachers – sending white teachers to the east side of town and black teachers to the west. What an opportunity for a do-gooder like me – I could integrate the elementary schools and Bob could solve the many problems in the state’s prisons – dream on! You can tell from the news reports of today that we did not accomplish the opportunities set for us!
In retirement I have enjoyed hiking, traveling to many parts of the United States and Canada to pursue that hobby. That hobby is now in the past so I get joy in vegetable gardening. I eat my efforts and give lots to the food pantry. I care about food hunger and do what I can to support organizations that help relieve that. This is one of the issues I truly care about.
The people who have shaped my faith in the past are legion. Now I have Sunday sermons and the Wednesdays Bible study at Faith to keep my faith fed every week. Our monthly meetings of WELCA feed my faith, also. Faith Lutheran is a cafeteria for faith feeding – come join the feast.
As the church changes, I hope it keeps its focus on community service, especially helping those who need food, clothing and a safe place to live. I like the variety of ways the leadership of this church gives us to serve.
Some wisdom I can pass on is there is always more than one side to every situation. Be quiet and listen to those other sides. You will develop a wonderful, peaceful tolerance for your fellow travelers through life--granted I have to work on tolerance every day!
Doris has been a member of Faith Lutheran since 1969. She has served on the church council and numerous committees through the years. She is active in WELCA (Women of the ELCA), Church Women United, a First Touch greeter, sharing the word of God as lector in worship, and studying the word of God in the Wednesday morning Bible study.
“Be sure you have your Sunday clothes ready for the morning,” My dad would say to my brother and I the night before Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas services. Attending the three services seemed to be a requirement for we three Southern Baptists.
As we made our way into the large white church my grandfather attended, the same one at which my cousin preached, the crowd of people always overwhelmed me. Saying good morning to everyone was a must.
“Let’s go find a seat with Grandpa,” My dad would beckon my brother and me.
About an hour in, I was prying my eyes open like a freshmen college student in an 8 am class. I knew church was where I wanted to be, I just didn’t feel a part of it, and I have always struggled to find people similar to me who would keep me interested in church and enjoying God’s true grace.
Further down the road, always staying true to my three services, I met a girl… I give a lot of my faith credit to Emily. She introduced me to Genesis, a UALR campus ministry. Aptly named, Genesis was truly my starting place, where young people like me were looking for a life with Christ. Genesis is a renovated house on the corner of 28th Street and Fair Park Boulevard. I mention this because the homely feeling I got from walking through that squeaky screen door and smelling freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies let me know Christ was waiting for me whenever I needed him. Since that day, I hear young curious lives walk in the door and always ask, “who lives here?” I never answer the question, I just let them take it all in—just like I did my first day there.
After a few months of participating in the campus ministry activities, Emily and I decided we needed a church home on top of Genesis, so we commenced church hunting. You know how it goes; you attend a service, and you just know or just don’t think so. One fall Sunday morning, we decided to try out some church on the corner of Mississippi and West Markham, the one with the stained glass.
That morning, I was overwhelmed with welcomes. Little did I know I was walking right into a sanctuary of people I already knew and people with whom I would grow closer.
Since that fall day, two years ago, Faith Lutheran has been the church home I always needed, full of great people leading me closer to God. A few months ago, someone challenged me to acolyte. You might be wondering how bringing God’s light into church is a challenge. Well, I’m blind, and carrying fire through an obstacle course with God watching isn’t exactly my idea of a relaxing Sunday morning. However, walking that fire down the middle of the church and listening to people change their views on what can and can’t be done makes me realize we all are part of a world larger than ourselves, and setting an example is the least I can do to change it for the better. That being said, my favorite bible verse is Matthew 7:5, “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.” Throughout my faith journey, one thing has stuck out to me the most, and that is whether you can or can’t see the fire doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
Eric, an Arkansas native, joined Faith Lutheran in the fall of 2016, with his then-girlfriend, now fiancé, Emily. Eric serves in worship as the acolyte and crucifer, led part of our financial health focus of A Life in Balance, as well as sharing about his vocation as a writing instructor and graduate student at UALR. Eric is active in the Arkansas School for the Blind’s Alumni Association, where he serves as treasurer. Eric wrestled while in school and has coached wrestling too. Eric is new to Lutheranism and he shares his faith, curiosity, and openness in this community. Eric is easy going, enjoys playing music, being in nature, and takes on any challenge he encounters with determination and enthusiasm.
I became a Child of God and a Lutheran as an infant when I was baptized. My parents and grandparents and cousins and extended family all attended the same Lutheran church and Sundays were filled with the love of Christ and the love of family. So, at an early age, I associated church and Sunday School with the warmth of loving family members and the joy of reuniting each week in fellowship.
My favorite part of the Gospel is John 10 --- the Good Shepherd. As children in Sunday School, we were all given a picture of Jesus holding a lamb. When I studied the Book of John, the chapter of the sheep knowing the master’s voice was so vivid to me and the words painted such a picture of security, love, and comfort that that scripture is written on my heart. He is my shepherd and King.
Along with the Sunday School teachers and my parents who spoke and prayed God’s words, my faith walk has been greatly influenced by Pastor Michael McCarthy through Bible studies and spiritual guidance counseling and by my husband, Steven. The first time I heard Steve pray in a Bible class I was drawn to his confident faith and love of Jesus.
My favorite Faith Lutheran Church memory is my wedding day to Steven. It was a joyful celebration with the church members and our children and the youth group participating in the service. Starting out a marriage with the loving support of our church family and continuing with that support makes me smile to remember that Steve and I will be celebrating 25 years soon! A second favorite memory is the ordination of our daughter here at Faith and seeing her dance up the aisle as she rejoiced in her call! Moments shared with church family are special and blessed! Thank you, all, for sharing in our lives!
Some wisdom I can pass on is: write in your Bible! Dog ear the pages that call to you! I never had until sharing a Bible study at Faith and receiving permission from Elizabeth to make notations in the margins of my Bible! Now I enjoy journaling in my Bible and adding stickers, drawing pictures, painting across the pages to join in the story and to highlight the spiritual markers of life. Big Advice: Develop a spiritual relationship with Jesus! Do everything you can to know Him!
Favorite hymn first learned at Faith is "Knowing You, Jesus". We must ask the worship committee to add it to a service again.
My favorite scripture is Psalm 37:4! Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. It took many years of Bible study to realize that the closer I move to Him, the more my heart's desire is to be closer to Him! What a wonderful change of perspective!
There are so many things I love about Faith Lutheran, but I am so very touched by the love and acceptance shown to my children and grandchildren! I love the Wee Worship Ministry of the church to draw the children into the hearts of the church body and the worship experience! I also love those noise makers! Another favorite scripture of mine is "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord" Psalm 100:1 Lawson asks to come to church and soon so will Jax. The images of the shooting stars at Christmas Eve service were priceless! I receive great joy from the Bible Studies with others at Faith: Bethel Bible Study, Experiencing God, The Holy Spirit and You, Crown Ministry, and many more because as I grew closer to Christ, I was growing closer to my family at Faith!
Some of you may be surprised to know that I like to tap dance in elevators and on stairwells. Sometimes you may hear my tapping shoes and then you'll know I am happy being at Faith!
I have experienced the grace of God daily and am blessed to be His. I had a wonderful experience at Via de Cristo where for the 72 hours of the spiritual retreat, I was able to experience the grace of God presented in so many tangible ways by other lay leaders, spiritual directors and servants of Christ that I was overwhelmed with His love and the love of others. It takes a lot to understand that unmerited, unearned grace that is freely given! I thank God for calling me to a retreat to experience that! I thank God for His grace and mercy!
Peace and grace to you!
Becky has been a member of Faith Lutheran Church for 29 years and in that time has engaged in many faith formation opportunities, Bible studies, Via de Cristo weekends, and much more! She has led the congregation as the chair of the call committee, shares the gospel often through preaching, led the group that created the Wee Worship Place, and shares her gifts of creativity through additions to special worship services and the altered book group. Becky is an audiologist and works children through the school system. Becky is also a wife, mother, and grandmother.
My family’s faith background is quite limited. Little can be recalled about my paternal grandparents since they both died while I was still quite young. My maternal grandparents are remembered as being a bit harsh and not at all religious. They were more or less “Catholic,” in name only, with church attendance rare.
My parents separated when I was two years old. Growing up, for me was especially complicated. Between the ages of two and six, I mostly lived in other people’s homes for short periods of time. I was constantly being shuttled between this aunt or that one, or this uncle or that family friend, or sometimes my mom, and sometimes my dad, and sometimes a grandparent. During that time, I do not recall experiencing any established routines, traditions or much instruction religious or otherwise. I do remember feeling fearful, isolated and “defective.” My parents did divorce and both eventually remarried. For whatever reasons, I, by the age of seven, (but not my sisters,) came to live with my dad and stepmother. In that setting we seldom attended church, did not read the Bible, and certainly did not pray.
I became a follower of Jesus only after a personal tragedy had struck when I was age thirty. My dear, beautiful sister, Louise, suddenly and unexpectedly, died of a brain aneurysm at age 36. She was starting a new life and new job in Little Rock when she died, leaving behind three small children. I was broken and devastated with grief. I remember weeping bitterly and uncontrollably. What occurred next change my life forever. Father Albert Schneider of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church in Little Rock was summoned to speak the eulogy and lead the Prayer service for Louise. As he began to speak, you could see the kindness in his eyes and face, and the empathy for all of Louise’s loved ones who were hurt by her death. He continued to speak calmly, and reassuringly, and with deep conviction, about God’s love for Louise, and the possibility of reuniting with her in Heaven. He spoke of sin, repentance, forgiveness and mercy, and how God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that we may live. My tears of grief turned to tears of hope. Shortly after the funeral, I began attending Mass on a regular basis and became a member of St. Theresa’s Catholic Church. I began reading the Bible, cover to cover, and several times over. In the process, I fell in love with Jesus.
I pray on a regular basis, usually informally, but it can be in any place and at any time. Often I pray for peace among the nations, and for unity and social justice. Sometimes I just meditate and let my mind wander and give thanks to God for the people in my life, and the mercy I’ve been shown. Thank You, Abba.
People who have shaped my faith and my life are Faith Albert Schneider, (as noted,) and Becky Webb. Al Schneider is no longer a priest, he left to marry, but is still very much a man of God. Becky Webb is a principled and Godly woman, as well as my significant other, best friend and confidant. She encourages me to attend church on a regular basis and says I still have a lot of years to make up for.
I like to help others by being of service, or by nurturing and encouraging them in appropriate ways.
Things that have shaped me include great teachers, good friends, inspiring mentors (both living and dead,) my sweet children and my sweet Jesus.
People are surprised that I am “liberal” on social matters and “conservative” on fiscal matters. In that way, almost everybody is mad at me for something.
My favorite parts of Scripture are many. The two most meaningful to me are perhaps,
“Don’t urge me to leave you or turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. (Ruth 1:16-18)
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt 22:36-40)
God’s peace to all
Tony has been a friend of Faith Lutheran for over 20 years and is a beloved part of the Faith Lutheran community. He is the grill master at Oktoberfest and Worship in the Park, serves meals at Our House, and lends a hand when it's needed. He is a servant leader who lives his faith in his daily actions who those he encounters.
I became a Lutheran when I was baptized as an infant. My parents and grandparents were Lutherans and I grew up in the Lutheran church.
Growing up I was at church every Sunday. My parents helped start 3 mission churches including one where my uncle was pastor. I have vivid memories of Vacation Bible School in the church/parsonage, marching around the sanctuary singing “Onward Christian Soldiers.” I also remember getting reprimanded from the pulpit during the sermon one Sunday because my cousin and I were chattering too much!
My parents and grandparents helped shape my faith life. My Granny was a model of the joy of caring for those older than me. My Grandma was a model for the discipline of daily devotion. My father showed me how hard it is sometimes to do the business of the church, and how hard sometimes to navigate culture and science with faith. My mom was a church secretary and was often a sounding board and compassionate listener for people calling the church office. Both my parents were lifelong students of the Bible.
My family was always involved in church work, but didn’t talk much about a personal faith. It wasn’t until I came to know people like Chuck’s aunts who prayed aloud at the drop of a hat, Pastor McCarthy who preached and prayed and taught as the Spirit moved him, the faithful people I’ve come to know and work with and pray with at Via de Cristo retreats and in this congregation, that I’ve truly seen the Holy Spirit at work and been able to speak about my faith and pray with others.
I pray through the day as people and situations come to mind. I pray as I walk my dog in the park. My favorite times to pray nowadays are when Hattie falls asleep in my lap and I have nothing to do but rock and pray for an hour or more! Sometimes I even sing my prayers in her ear as I’m trying to get her to sleep! I also count it a great privilege to pray with other people when they are sick or distressed or joyful.
My favorite part of Scripture—that’s hard to choose! The psalms, parts of Isaiah, Paul’s letters. One of my favorite passages is Romans 8 where Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Jesus Christ—nothing! It was one of my dad’s favorites, too. The passage I most often repeat to myself is “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything, with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I wish I had more Scripture memorized so I could share it, but my brain doesn’t memorize well. I do remember lots of songs with Scripture in them.
I like to spend my time outdoors. I love to sit on the side porch and swing and read, hang out on the deck and have my lunch and watch birds, or stroll Hattie in the park or around the neighborhood. I love going birding with Chuck. I like to do counted cross stitch and love singing in the choir. I love visiting my big extended family in Texas.
I have experienced God’s grace in many ways. Often in the most difficult times of my life. I remember the unexpected sense of peace and assurance that came over me after I’d prayed and come to a difficult decision about my mother’s care. The times friends have held my hands and prayed for me and the times I’ve been able to do that for them. And I experience God’s grace when I’m aware of the blessings in my life. The times I get to witness something in nature that amazes me with God’s creative power. The tiny miracles I see, like my friend Barb eating a Frostee, or the big miracles, like our grandbaby Hattie Ruth.
I struggle with finding time and energy for group Bible study. I struggle with worry when I know I should trust God. I struggle with the divisions I see in the country now. I struggle with knowing how to help address those divisions and issues of justice. I struggle with staying connected with friends and family who are far away.
I show people I care by writing to them or sending them cards or postcards. When a friend or family member faces a long recuperation from a surgery or illness, I try to cheer them up and let them know I’m thinking about them and praying for them by sending a postcard every few days. I like to collect old postcards with interesting pictures and places so I have a stack ready to send.
I love being a member of Faith Lutheran because of its caring members and its clear message of the unconditional grace and love of God.
Ruth has been a member of Faith Lutheran Church for 32 years and is active in choir, care ministries, worship & music, leadership, Via de Cristo, and the Servanthood Sunday planning team. She is a retired teacher and now enjoys days caring for her grandbaby, Hattie.