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.
I became a Lutheran when I was in high school. Some friends invited me to youth group and I just kept coming. I didn’t really claim my Lutheranism until my early 20s and began to learn Lutheran theology.
Growing up I lived with both my parents and my 2 sisters (one older and one younger) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We all played soccer but none of us were very into sports. We played in our backyard a lot and with our neighborhood friends. I was very close to my cousins and free time in the summers was spent at my grandparents’ pool. When I was 12, we moved to Australia for 3 years.
I pray in nontraditional ways. I’m not big on structured prayer, but find myself praying most when driving and listening to music or gardening.
In 10 years, I see the church being mighty. I don’t mean that in a show of great power, but rather mighty in a show of great effort to better love God and love our neighbor. I hope in 10 years the church can give up its power in culture for the sake of being better servants to God.
Things I love about Faith Lutheran are the people. There have been countless times that I just don’t feel like coming to church (I’m tired, the boys are difficult, or I’m not feeling 100%) and then I show up and am welcomed by the folks here and the life that abounds in this place and I leave feeling like I can’t wait to come again. I am so filled by the ways that people care about God and one another. I also love when people share something that God has put on their hearts, whether a new ministry for the church or to them. It is wonderful to be a part of this beautiful community.
My favorite part of Scripture are the parts that talk about the Body of Christ (2 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians 4). It humbles and encourages me to remember that I am only part of the body and that the body has such unique gifts to share and in the function of the whole body of Christ.
I get joy from being in creation – whether that is on a walk or gardening. Spending time or at least phone calls and texts with loved ones. I also enjoy DIY home projects and going to Target.
I connect with God by being in community. Especially during worship when I get little glimpses of the community sharing in God's grace. Sometimes it's someone helping with my kids, my 3-year-old saying the Lord's Prayer, or it might be a song from the choir. I feel the most connected to God when the people that make up the body of Christ show Christ to me.
I like to spend my time doing something fun with Josh and the boys, work on our house projects, garden, or take quick trips to Tulsa to spend time with my family.
I have experienced God’s grace in big and little ways. The big ways are always most obvious during a crisis. During my stillborn son’s funeral, I could feel God’s presence in the most powerful way during the reading of the gospel. When the pastor read the promise of Jesus’ words “let the little children come to me, for theirs is the kingdom of God”. I find the little ways that I experience God are powerful too, they usually happen in an interaction with a kind stranger, in an unexpected conversation, or a moment of stillness.
As the church changes, I hope it keeps the spirit of caring for one another. I think the church of the last 50 years has been good at being there for its members and community during a crisis or loss - whether that's in a meal or showing up - I hope it continues.
I struggle with how to be a public leader in the midst of so much pain and division in our world.
Things that have shaped me include my parents and sisters, going to high school in Australia at a very diverse school, being accepted at church as a youth, being a wife and mother, loss and grief, people who saw gifts in me that I didn’t.
I am a Lutheran because I am a sinner and a saint who is in need of God’s grace. I am humbled and grateful to be a part of a church that welcomes all to share in God’s love and grace.
Deacon Shannon has been called to serve at Faith Lutheran Church for a little over 2 years. Her area of ministry is accompanying others as they discover their gifts and call, and helping them to find ways to use them in the church and world.