My journey with Grace Episcopal Church began sometime in the year of 1972. I started attending church with my future mother-in-law, Frances Linn, who had been a member of Grace for awhile. I had been raised in the Reformed Church in Holland, so Grace was a breath of fresh air for me. Father Bill O’Brien’s sermons were refreshing, relatable, and inspiring–I had found a home! A real seal on the deal was the wonderful way children of all ages were welcome at the communion rail–so different in my previous church. “Come unto Me”.
Rick and I were married at Grace in December, l972. Our children Erin, Sarah, Rob and Andrew soon followed, and all are baptized members of Grace. I started teaching Sunday School at elementary level when my children were of that age and taught for 15 odd years–in every space that was available–choir robe room, space in undercroft, day care center–so wonderful to finally see a future of designated Sunday School rooms! Remembering all of the fund raisers–Valentine’s Day Lunch, Tulip Time meals, Rummage sales, Christmas Bazaars. I feel that we are now more focused on outreach at Grace, and I love that.
When Jen Adams arrived on the scene, our youth education needed a lift–and she was it! My girls were older, but the boys benefited from this new influx of energy–my Rob came home from a youth group meeting and said, WOW, can she play soccer! My youngest, Andrew, was part of the first mission trip the group took–to Jamaica, to do work on the church that the Christofferson’s attended there. Very exciting for our young people.
And then, as life happens, we were thrown for a loop–we lost Rick in an accident. The girls were in college, Rob, 16, and Andrew 13. Tough at any age. We were upheld by Father Tom Toeller-Novak and Jen. The children wanted Jen to do Rick’s service and we were blessed to sit with her and share tears, laughter and stories about our husband, father. The homily Jen gave was spot on and so comforting–more of Grace giving grace.
A few years after Rick’s death, the Stephen Ministry was starting up again at Grace and I thought I might be able to give back through this ministry–I am so glad I made that decision as it has been a gift for me. I started taking my grandson, Dawson, to church with me a couple years ago and now my daughter-in-law, Megan, and I are teaching Sunday School–full circle!
Andrew and Megan, my daughter Sarah and Brian were married in Grace church. All four grandchildren, Dawson-7, Eli-almost 3, Pierce-1, and Eleanor-4, have been baptized at Grace. We are now fourth generation and I cannot be more pleased and happy.
I am proud to say I am a member of Grace Episcopal Church–I believe we have been a constant in our commitment of inclusiveness–early on. We are finding ways to help make life a little easier for those in need. Rev. Jen has been a beacon in our Holland community with her activism in the LGBT area–I am so excited about this mission! This church of grace, this family of Grace, has been a constant in my life. I have been blessed by being a member of this community. It seems there is nothing we can’t accomplish with the power of God’s love with us and in us…Go Grace!! Another 150 years!!
Submitted by Judy Linn