02 March 2010

We’ve come this far by Faith…

If you are blessed, you have a church family that upholds you, nourishes you and supports you as you grow in your relationship with Christ. IF you are blessed, you might have one or more church families that do that for you. But if you are TRULY blessed, you have a connection with the Faith SDA Church in Hartford, CT. This is the church of my childhood summers and Christmas vacations and let me tell you – ain’t no church family like the Faith Church family!

Yesterday, I returned ‘home’ to Faith SDA to attend the funeral of my godsister’s eldest brother, Jacob Almus Anderson. Now, I could write a whole ‘notha blog about Almus (or Al) and the legacy he left behind – the life he led – the service that was had on yesterday – it was beautiful and we had CHURCH up in that place on yesterday! Whoever said that Adventists did not know how to praise the Lawd shoulda oughta been up in Faith on yesterday! From the music to the testimonies on Al’s life to the sermon by Pastor Marcellus P. Howard – I’m telling y’all – CHURCH! But that ain’t what this blog is about today.

It’s about the Faith Church family. My first introduction to the Faith Church family (that I was remember) was the little church on Cornwall Street, which was actually the second of three locations for the church. I am sure that I attended the Vineland Terrace location with my parents as a child ‘cause I’ve heard the stories, but my first memories of Faith are not until my parents are divorced and my mom shipped my brother and I off to visit my grandparents every summer and Christmas vacation. Contrary to popular belief, I am NOT a “son or daughter” of Faith, I’m a “grandchild” of Faith…but you would never know it by how I am loved by the members of that church (as I found out on yesterday). I didn’t grow up in Faith – my contact was annual, but brief and intermittent. I haven’t been back to visit since my grandparents retired to Florida in 1979, but you would have never known that based on the love, hugs and support shown to me yesterday.

My memories of Faith SDA Church are so much a part of who I am. They suffered through (and even applauded) my childish singing renditions of every Blendwright song I thought I could sing (especially IT’S RAINING JOY). They encouraged me to get up front and lead out during Vacation Bible School, which gave me the “confidence” to get up in front of audiences now – whether at church or work or in my career in the theatre. They fed me (and fed me well ‘cause Faith got some cooks up in that joint!) and taught me how to stretch a meal made for 4 into a feast for 10 – salad, lots of salad. They taught me that adults love children and just because they chastise you doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Where would I be without the loving chastisement of Sis. Pearl, Sis. Bell, Aunt Joanie, Uncle Walter, Aunt Deanna, Ms. Nancy, Sis. Howard, Aunt Lucy, Uncle Jake, Sis. Betty Sutton, Sis. Betty Mack, Kitson and Deb Richardson, my grandparents? The list goes on and on. Some of these saints have been laid to rest to await God’s (soon and very soon) return, but what a great joy to see and hug and kiss on the ones who are still at Faith – still faithful and still holding on to God’s unchanging hand.

There’s no church family like the Faith church family. They love you and support you no matter where you are – or how long you have been away. They show up in times of happiness (graduations and weddings) and in times of sorrow. I will never forget looking up at my grandfather’s funeral in 2001 and seeing the contingent of Faith members who traveled from all across the country to be there to support our family. Palatka FL ain’t easy to get to, and yet they came or called or otherwise showed their love and support. And they still do it to this day. My Sunday calls with my grandmother are full of reports of the calls she gets on a weekly basis from the members of Faith SDA Church.

Faith is not just what they named their church when they started it years and years ago. Faith is something that the members exhibit in their love for each other and their love for God. I am glad I am part of the Faith SDA Church family. I promise it won’t be another 32 years before I visit again. I pray you have a church family like this. And if you are ever in Hartford, CT, stop by 474 Woodland Avenue and tell ‘em I sent you. I am sure they will welcome you with open arms.

Be blessed.

© 2010 Kristina E. Smith

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