St Paul’s is my spiritual home and community. This is why last year, as an adult, I chose to become a baptized Christian here. It is also why all four of my children have been baptized here. Being part of this church has provided me with many deeply meaningful moments and friendships.
Like stepping into any new home, I remember the curiosity and uncertainty I felt the first time I attended a service at St. Paul’s with my family. Listening to the beautiful voices in the choir put me right at ease, but when I found myself drawn in to Father Andrew’s sermon, I realized I wanted to return. His insightful and introspective sermons have continued to help me not only feel closer to God, but also to better understand myself.
Having been raised a Buddhist, I had a lot of questions to ask before I could commit to being baptized. I discovered the answers through my children’s baptisms and by attending the confirmation class as an observer. Studying and coming to believe the Apostle’s Creed was important. The big “a-ha” moment came, however, when I learned that the key to understanding God and our faith was through the three elements of Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. During life’s difficult moments, I look to the Bible, what those before me have done, as well as inward to my own experiences.
On my journey to being baptized, I became part of the St. Paul’s community through volunteering and attending activities at church. Whether it is with Sunday School, Vacation Bible Camp, the Book Sale, or delivering food for Mission Kitchen, everyone was very welcoming and made me feel like I could make an impact no matter how much or how little time I had. I recall many moments of laughter while waiting for my kids at choir practice, attending the Connections playgroup, debating favorite characters at the Book Club, and attending social events like the Spring Auction or the Stewardship cocktail party. I am grateful to be part of St. Paul’s and to have found my spiritual home.
-- My Linh
I grew up in St. Paul’s. I was baptised and went went to preschool here; I’m now eighteen and a senior at Westfield High School. Needless to say, I’ve spent countless Sundays in a pew. But I met God in the real world, such as our monthly Mission Kitchen in Elizabeth, serving for a homeless organization called Family Promise and, my favorite, weeklong mission trips in the summer. I’ve worked on a myriad of different projects on the six mission trips I’ve attended: cleaning a hoarders house, playing Bingo at nursing homes, taking care of children in urban areas at Kid’s Club and clearing a nature trail of rocks twice my size. This summer will mark my seventh and final mission as a student. I hope to join the summer staff of YouthWorks (the organization that hosts our trips) for a summer in college as well as joining the St. Paul’s group as an adult leader.
I met one of my best friends, Abby, on a mission trip in Harrisburg, PA. Keeping in touch with her after two years is something I’ve never managed to accomplish with friends from any other camp or summer trip. Closer to home, I also have my youth group friends; we met in primary and junior choir, and bonded through all those Sunday nights playing dodgeball in the parish hall. We became so close that we began hanging out and joining activities together outside of church, such as horseback-riding and tae-kwon-do. My school friends have changed over the course of elementary, middle and high school, but my friends in ninth grade Confirmation class were my same playmates from our Sunday School days.
To me, St. Paul’s isn’t an hour every Sunday. It’s a community and my comfort zone, but also a door to new opportunities.
-- Kelly W
I was honored to be coerced by Kate to share with you my thoughts on stewardship – not as a staff member of this wonderful parish, but as a pledging member of St. Paul’s Church.
Growing up in the south, I had a Saturday evening routine of picking out my clothes for Sunday morning church, polishing my shoes and putting out my collection for Sunday School (all three were my mother’s idea – none of which were enjoyable – especially giving part of my weekly allowance to my home church). But it was one of the best lessons my mom ever taught me.
I gladly give to St. Paul’s each year. I am privileged to be here daily and to see all of the many activities that take place here beyond Sunday morning.
St. Paul’s is blessed in so many ways, but during my years of being a member, we have struggled annually with finances, which is regrettable for such an outstanding parish so ably led and guided by our gifted Rector.
When I think about my pledge, I take into consideration the monthly bills for my cell phone, internet service, cable television and an occasional nice dinner (all luxuries I could live without). I hope you will do you same. If you have not yet submitted your pledge to St. Paul’s (I am guilty as charged) please do so. If you have never pledged – your gift – large or small - will help St. Paul’s Church continue its ministry and presence in Westfield and beyond.
-- Charles B.
My name is Nancy, and my husband Rob and I have been proud, pledging members of St. Paul’s since we moved to Westfield in 2009. We have enjoyed seeing our daughter go through the 2s, 3s, 4s, Junior Kindergarten, and Kindergarten programs here at the Day School. Our son is currently in the 4s class and will likely follow the same track. I am also honored to serve on the Day School Board. St. Paul’s is a big part of our lives and we feel privileged to have connected when we first arrived in town.
St. Paul’s has provided my family with far more than just excellent schooling for the kids, however. And that is why I am here today. I think we can all agree that St. Paul’s Church has a special place in all of our lives. Whether it is this beautiful building, or our wonderful music, our joyous choir, the fellowship we have with each other, or perhaps most of all, our fantastic clergy, we are—and certainly should be—proud to call St. Paul’s our place to worship. Whatever our reason or reasons are for being here, and you have your own, it is great that we are here and we should encourage others to join us.
Rob and I are proud to pledge to St. Paul’s because we are proud to be part of this community, pleased with the work that it does for the surrounding community through mission kitchen, as an example, and feel good knowing that we can raise our kids in an environment that St Paul’s offers for school, Sunday school and here for the Service when they get older.
During this year’s Stewardship drive, I ask you to reflect on what St. Paul’s means to you directly or how you know it impacts others in the community. How it stands tall here in the center of Westfield and how the town would look if it weren’t here—or didn’t do all that it is called to do as a member of the diocese. St. Paul’s is here because we want it here, because we are proud to have it here and because we support it with the resources to keep it here. We all have demands on us—financial not the least of which—but as you think about your pledge for 2015, please think about all the St. Paul’s has done for your families, the community and most importantly for you as individual.
Your pledge has meaning and ensures that our strong Parish will continue serving. Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us, and has given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God. These words don’t just mean that it’s time for the kids to come in the side door and find the parents ahead of communion. These words are our calling to pledge our support to St. Paul’s and its mission.
Even though I grew up going to church every Sunday with my family, I honestly never thought I would connect so much with a church and all it offers like I have with St. Paul’s. My family has formed friendships here that are so meaningful for us and will last a long, long time. We felt so welcome and comfortable here from the beginning. Which is why I feel so committed to supporting St. Paul’s in order to keep it such a big part of my life. I encourage you all to do the same.