Hannah James, Port Charlotte
Hannah James, Port Charlotte
There are some places that are so intertwined with our lives that they have a profound effect on who we are. Like the color of a thread changes the look of a tapestry, the places we spend our time often affect our personalities, our beliefs, and sometimes even our outlook on life. For me, one such place is The United Methodist church, a home where I grew up and will no doubt continue to be a part of for the rest of my life.
Unlike the childhood of many people, my youth was centered on the activities of my church. My father, who became a minister long before I was born, was always spending time working, thinking, and executing ways to cultivate people's faith. This affected my childhood profoundly. I loved to spend time at the church, and whether I was worshipping by my father's side, or helping serve doughnuts and coffee to the church’s adult members after services, I always felt as if I belonged to a family, a community, a society of people who shared my faith. This feeling, along with the support of my church family throughout all of my endeavors, helped me achieve many of my goals. For example, most of my life I have been an extremely competitive swimmer. I practice before and after school, on holidays and weekends, and I plan on swimming at the Olympic Trials in 2016. To cultivate this talent, my family and I moved to the Sarasota area so that I could train with one of the best swim programs in the country. In order to make this move a reality, my church family had to allow my father, their senior pastor, to live almost an hour away from the church facility. However, the congregation at our church agreed to this arrangement without hesitation. This is because they knew what an amazing opportunity it would be for me to swim with the team in Sarasota. This is just one example of the church’s support and generosity to both me and my family.
The United Methodist community has also been a place of comfort and solace for me. I was always spending time at the church on the weekends, running up and down the hallways of the children’s area, organizing the books in the church library, and eating any spare cookies left over from last Sunday’s service. To me, the sanctuary was a second home, the choir room was a recording studio, and the gymnasium was my own private dance hall. This ability to relax and enjoy myself at church allowed me to maintain close relationships with my family, my friends, and my Lord. I will always remember growing up in Pine Island at my father’s first United Methodist church. Our house was literally right next to the church’s front entrance, and my older brother and I loved to go to church alone on Sunday’s. We would get dressed up and ride over in my little Barbie Jeep convertible, the 5-year old equivalent to a Mercedes Benz. Of course, being the pastor’s children did have its advantages. There was a special spot in the front row of the parking lot that was reserved just for me and my Jeep.
Whether it is a YMCA, a community health club, or a religious establishment, any program that is an important part of your youth also has a profound effect on who you become as you mature. Being a pastor’s daughter and growing up in the church has made me who I am today. Without the morals and sense of hope that comes with my faith, as well as the confidence and credence that developed as a result of all the support of my loved ones.
Up Next Week…
Dianne Richardson, First Orlando
She shares a revelation about humility: “If I am a unique and precious creation of God’s, then so is everyone else. That includes the lady who cuts me off in traffic or the guy taking forever at the U-Scan checkout at the grocery store. Or someone who has hurt me deeply who I must forgive.