Since moving back to Richmond after almost 20 years away, I’ve been surprised at the frequent and visceral flashbacks to my childhood and youth. These episodes happen most frequently when I’m driving near GPPC, and almost always recall events I haven’t thought of for years, like youth group lock-ins, mission trips to the Eastern Shore and Atlanta, and 12 years of weekly choir practice.
These flashbacks usually trigger some kind of analysis about my relationship with the church now that I’ve returned to Richmond. This year I’ve gone from being a kind of “youth emeritus” member to being a full-time, “grown-up” member at GPPC. After spending most of my 20s and 30s on hiatus from regular church attendance, I’ve been surprised and gratified at the number of opportunities to serve and share within the GPPC community.
On reflection, I’m drawn to activities that help me connect with GPPC members, our neighbors, and the world around us: Caritas, Spring Retreat, manning the water station at the marathon, talks with Ruth Brown and Cindy Corell about their mission experiences, even filling cocoa cups at the Love Feast. This is the kind of stuff – the kind of human connection – that I missed during my years away. The solidarity I experience at GPPC comforts me when I get a little too focused on the constant stream of bad news emanating from my various electronic devices these days.
While participating in activities has come easily to me, other elements of being a “grown-up” member of the church require a bit more work and intention. Let’s take a subject on the mind of many church treasurers this time of year: making a financial contribution. I know that so many of the formative experiences I had at GPPC in my youth were made possible by members who gave. After joining the Stewardship committee, I have a better idea of what it takes to keep a church running. After years of working overseas, I have seen firsthand how far a little bit of money can go. And yet, I do not make a regular financial contribution. For years I’ve had the idea that “someday” I will start, but even as I recognize that it is now “that day,” such a regular and long-term commitment is intimidating to me.
I’m grateful therefore, that stewardship season is here to give me an entry point and to help me test my comfort zone a bit. This year I happen to be thinking most about the financial angle. But I’m also mindful of this opportunity to reflect on how, after years of watching from the sidelines, I can more intentionally offer my time, talents and energy to contribute to that sense of solidarity and “home” that GPPC has provided to me since Dr. Sweezey baptized me in 1978.
Sarah Workman (on the left in her baptism photo) grew up in Richmond, but until recently lived “all over,” including Washington, D.C., Kosovo, Uganda, Baltimore, and Egypt. She’s called Church Hill home since late 2015 and finds it just as satisfying and interesting as those other places. In November 2016, she will start her newest professional adventure: a Richmond-based position with Initiatives of Change. Outside of work, you can sometimes find her joyfully swimming laps at the Northside Family YMCA or taking in the Richmond Ballet’s latest studio performance. Around GPPC, you may know Sarah better as “Eleanor’s daughter,” an identity she accepts with great pride.