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Beyond the Motions

by Grace Twardy

GLASTONBURY (04/17/2012) -- When I was younger, I was just going through the motions. Every Sunday, I’d get dressed up and attend Sunday school. I’d read the passages in my beginner’s Bible, accompanied by many colorful illustrations. I memorized the Lord’s Prayer, and recited it on cue. I followed the practices, but there was no meaning in anything I did.

As I got older, I struggled with my faith, trying to find the answers to my questions, but there was so much I didn’t understand. It was hard for me to see past the sadness and sorrow that I had experienced in my life. I felt as if everything I was practicing was pointless, and had no effect on the many loved ones in my life that had passed. Is God really hearing my prayers?

I felt alone and discouraged, not knowing where to turn, lost in my doubts, when my faith journey took an unexpected turn for the better when I became a member of the Congregational Church UCC in South Glastonbury, Connecticut.

Becoming a part of the South Church community was one of the best decisions I could have made, and it completely changed my perspective. South Church provided me with the opportunity to deeply discuss my thoughts and concerns, to explore possible answers to my questions, and to strengthen my faith. I’ve undergone so many life-changing experiences since joining this community, from mission trips to “Wednesday school” discussions, to my whole confirmation year. When I was asked why the church matters, I thought of one defining moment that truly portrayed the answer for me.

As a part of confirmation, we were assigned the task of creating a “life map” that showed five distinct moments where we saw God in our lives. As the weeks went on and people presented, I never would have expected how personal and emotional the process would be. Our classmates poured their hearts and souls out to us, sharing their struggles and deepest darkest secrets.

My heart ached as I sat and listened to the pain and misfortune my friends had been going through. I could not believe how courageous and open they were to our class. There was so much trust and love that encompassed the room, and even though I completely broke down while giving my presentation, I knew that I was in a safe and supporting environment. These people truly cared about me, and from that day on, I considered them my family.

The church matters to me because it fulfills me and everything I do. I’ve become a part of a new, loving family, who supports me in all that I do. I’ve received so much wisdom and guidance in my times of need, even when it’s not requested.

South Church means everything and more to me, and my life has changed because of it. I am a part of a big happy family that wants nothing more than for me to succeed, and it’s the best feeling in the world.

Grace Twardy is a member of the Congregational Church of South Glastonbury UCC, and a high school senior.

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The Connecticut Conference United Church of Christ
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