Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Power of an Affirming Community ~ by Melody Oliphant

A few weeks ago, I was having a bad dream. I’m not sure if I was talking in my sleep or what, but my husband, Steve, somehow knew and rolled over and put his arm around me and said the most powerful words I’ve ever heard, “It’s okay; I’ve got you.”

At the TENS Conference (The Episcopal Network for Stewardship - more about TENS here) that Peter+, Shaunna, Ginny, & I attended in May, we were reminded that the only way that people feel comfortable offering their gifts, be it time, talent, or treasure, is if they feel safe and secure.

At St. Mary’s, I’ve experienced just that. Very often at St. Mary's, we get visitors who are among the most marginalized in Utah County. A couple of Sundays ago, a girls’ home brought their girls to worship with us. A few months ago, I experienced a moment with a mentally ill man sitting on the back steps of the church who told me, as he patted the wall, that this is his church. LGBT individuals feel secure at St. Mary’s because they are reassured that God loves them just as they are, which isn’t a message they get often in Utah County. And for myself, I found refuge when I left my childhood religion and was deeply hurting.

Peter+ teaches us stewardship of our resources - time, talent, and treasure & to not squander what we have, yet the most valuable lessons that I have learned while attending St. Mary’s is watching the clergy and the congregation when they discover a need someone has. They all come together to help, in effect saying, “It’s okay, I’ve got you.”

~ Melody Oliphant