When Church Comes to You By Jackson Silvanik

I have no problem acknowledging that I am not a typical churchgoer; that is to say, I don’t

regularly attend church in a familiar sense. I haven’t had what I’d consider a home church in

years – I do not wake up each Sunday, put on nice clothes and make my way to a particular

congregation to mingle. Most often, moments of spiritual importance have come to me in

moments of solitude – and as someone with, admittedly, some degree of social anxiety,

fellowship with others isn’t always at the top of my list when it comes to spiritual needs.

Sometimes church isn’t necessarily a place you go, but a state of being that finds you wherever

you are.

I did grow up in the church, though. I went often, and grew up with youth group trips and retreats

and small group gatherings. I attended a Christian high school, and in a sense, you could say I

attended “church” almost every day. I sang the praise songs, learned the Bible via weekly Bible

verses, and recited the Pledge to the Christian Flag every morning. In some ways, I wonder if

the frequency and monotony of the rituals distracted from the real magic of God. What is God,

anyways, if not magical and mystical and spiritual? Sometimes it felt like a chore, or a

homework assignment coming due – often overlooking how big, wondrous and powerful the idea

of a higher spirit and state-of-being can be.

Church is not simply the act of engaging in rituals – it’s an ongoing process of letting life speak

to you when you aren’t expecting it, and finding small moments of peace when you need it most.

The closest thing I have lately had to a “home church” has usually been wherever my dad has

found himself in his pastoral journey. As is typical of Disciples of Christ pastors, his journey

takes him somewhere new every so often. Arthur, as it turns out, has ended up perhaps the

most “home” church that I have experienced for myself in years.

It may be that my life has taken on such new meaning in the time that he has been here. As you

undoubtedly know, my son was recently born while my parents live here. My mom learned to

quilt here, and made him a lovely blanket that we’ll always treasure. My wife and I have visited

numerous times to mark holidays and spend quiet weekends away from our jobs and lives. It’s a

lovely town and there’s something special about it.

The pandemic may have kept people from gathering in-person, but it’s driven home how much

the church is so much bigger than a physical building. I’m happy to turn on a device back in

Lexington and watch my dad deliver a service live from the Vine Street sanctuary.

There’s something special here – an open-minded discussion about racial justice in the wake of

George Floyd’s death, for example. I had the chance to sit in for some of a board meeting about

re-opening the church as Covid-19 continues to surge. What I heard was nothing but

compassion and concern about fellow churchgoers – no politicizing the issue just to open the

doors back up. Not to mention, the kind of town that has an entire festival dedicated to cheese,

and the largest sheet of fire that I’ll likely ever see in-person each July.

Arthur is a wonderful town and I am so glad that you’ve welcomed our family. I’m here now

because the birth of my son has not only been joyful and miraculous, but because it has

amplified issues of my own that I need to work on – finding the ability to let love in, for one, and

try to deal with my worldly anxieties. Coming here is a bit of an escape; a retreat. One of the

things that Christianity always shouts at us is to love others, yet often it seems that we forget to

be loved ourselves. We search in all sorts of places for satisfaction, self-worth and validation,

and yet most of the time we miss what’s already there in the form of our family and friends.

Those little moments of peace are here to be found in Arthur. 

You should be proud of the spiritual community that you’ve created. It will always be a piece of me and my family.