I came to Saint Mark’s after a decade in the desert. I grew up a reformed Presbyterian in Tennessee and led a rich spiritual life from the age of eight years old. But I internalized the message of sin too deeply and missed the joy that reputedly springs from ever greater awareness of God’s mercy. In college I stopped attending church altogether and stopped praying. As I explored life outside the corner I grew up in, the God I knew became increasingly incompatible but God Himself wouldn’t leave me alone. In 2008, I found myself under a tree in Central Park, aware that I believed in Christianity but unable to reconcile the God I knew with the rest of my value system. I was parched. I began wandering into churches in New York – Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, nondenominational – but a sense of unfamiliarity remained and a headstrong desire to avoid the increep of groupthink orthodoxy kept me at arms length from each of the communities I visited. I was a square peg surrounded by round holes.
Until Saint Mark’s. My first Sunday was Community Fair 2012, and I was struck by the poetic beauty of the liturgy, the way in which the words hung in the air, without dogma, speaking for themselves. I was floored by the community gathering at the Eucharist table. I discovered a broad umbrella sheltering people with a wide variety of beliefs, united by a love for humanity and the ancient rituals of Christianity and realized, “There is space here, enough for me to find God.” So I kept coming, fed by the Eucharist, ministered to by the warm invitation of the community, enlightened by the wisdom of our priests. Over the year, peace and joy have sprung from a fresh understanding of God’s universal love and quiet methods of establishing His kingdom here on Earth. Being given so much, I am now grateful to give back my time, talents and tithes to help build this oasis and carry its water to the broader community.