On Saturday April 21, 2018, Grace Episcopal Church, Carthage hosted diocesan Area Confirmations. Taking part were members of Christ Church, Springfield; Grace, Carthage; St. Nicholas, Noel; St. Philips Joplin and All Saints, Nevada.
‘Serving God in His Church’ has taken on new and different meanings for me since our experience at All Saints’, Nevada, with the resignation of our beloved Fr. Ted Estes three years ago. The void left by his absence was felt immediately.
Unspoken questions were, “Can our church, as small and rural as it is, survive the shaky ground we will now be on? Will we as a congregation be committed to unity strong enough to survive those months of transition required for us to again have a priest we could all love and support?” Months passed and our journey became a kaleidoscope of experiences in an ever-changing landscape of devotion and love as our supply priests felt our struggle and gave us what we needed to keep faith and hope alive.
Now, here we are, almost three years later, more vibrant that ever and even more committed as we celebrate each week with our newest jewel: Fr. Jim Lile. Looking back, I have often wondered how we as a church congregation actually accomplished this major transition in our church life. And, my thoughts always return to what I perceive as the group of dedicated people who made both conscious and unconscious decisions each week to attend church, to participate in communion, in youth functions, and, in all these joys, rally if you will, to say to the world, ‘We are one and we will serve God in His church by being one in our church.’ I know my absences from church on Sunday morning became fewer and fewer. I wanted my presence to speak for itself as a commitment to our All Saints’ journey. And, during this time, our entire congregation stood firm in its resolve to weather whatever changes occurred within our church, and to do so with a dignity and loyalty probably none of us realized we had. Our church attendance wavered some, as all church attendance does; but, overall, we remained steady and true. Our beautiful church remained strong and now we are flourishing. Our youth give back, even those who are college-bound, and we are growing, slowly but surely. But mostly, right now, I feel we are at that stage where we can relish our journey together, with extreme joy in God’s blessings, and His reward for our loyalty, dedication and patience.
I sense a new camaraderie in our services as we pass the “Peace” and greet each other with love and thankfulness
For me, I sense a new camaraderie in our services as we pass the “Peace” and greet each other with love and thankfulness for that shared past as we journeyed together through an ever-yawning miasma of loss, and the contemplation of what lay ahead. We did it together, with God’s help, with the help of Grace Church, with our diocesan leaders, and with those wonderful supply priests. But, our congregation did the most difficult part. We became joined as one, for God in His Church, and in ours, too. All one, truly. All Saints, Nevada, is a beacon of light for everyone who ever doubts God’s presence reigns supreme.
Dr. Sharon West Lansing, is a member at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Nevada, Missouri.