I first discovered St. John the Divine when my son joined Boy Scout Troop 55 here. I never really entertained the possibility of attending here because we felt like it would be too different, having grown up Catholic and in a predominantly Hispanic community. And then one weekend our senior patrol leader’s father passed away suddenly at a campout.
The funeral services were here and we came to pay our respects. It wasn’t the typical funeral service I’d grown up with. I didn’t know this man personally, but after the homily I felt like I really knew him. The message of the entire homily was one of grace – about how no matter what, we all have grace, and second chances, and we all can come home to Jesus. I was struck by the way the priest spoke of the family's journey through life and their spiritual journey, and the level of intimacy they had with this family. I had never ever heard clergy be so honest and so authentic, and I thought to myself, ‘I want to be a part of that!’
I started going to services in the main sanctuary and a lot of scout parents there were really welcoming when they saw us. Several of them invited me to their adult education small group. I wasn’t familiar with that format – a lesson then a small group discussion led by people just like me. They weren’t ‘holier than thou’, they didn’t wear a collar. It was just real discussion about the Bible and learning.
I went to the Discovery class. Not only did this place accept me, they taught me from the Bible and they welcomed me into the scripture, which I had never experienced before. It wasn’t the priest preaches, you listen, and you take it as is because I said so. It was, ‘Read the Bible with me.’ All of us are in a different point in our journey, and so when you invite someone into that process, then they can really connect where they are.
My small group has been so instrumental. I’m able to ask questions and relate life today to the message. I’ve found a really great support network. My family went through a particularly challenging time and they stepped up right away. They were the first to help and that’s made a real difference in our lives.
I’m many different things: I’m Latina, I’m a mom of four, I’m a full-time mom, part-time working mom, and I guess what I’d say to people is if what they’re looking for is a real relationship with Jesus, if they’re looking for a church home that will feel like a home where it doesn’t matter what your income is or how you’re dressed or what your past life experiences or mistakes or successes are, because you’ll find here a community that will help you in your growth and in your journey to Christ.