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I have lived in many houses but few ever really felt like home. They were always just a temporary place to sleep and keep the few belongings that I had. Then, in the summer of 1981, under unlikely circumstances, I found home, only it wasn’t a house in the traditional sense. I was 11-years-old and despite my most sincere objections at the beginning, I was attending Sunday services here with my family.

Shy and extremely introverted I was not initially interested in leaving the church we had been attending for four years. Fortunately, God knows better than I and I was soon befriended by a couple of the older girls from the youth group and found myself begging to attend Sunday evening and Wednesday services. Weekends were no longer spent sitting in my room reading books alone. Whenever possible I was out with the youth playing wiffle ball, going to Ev’s for ice cream, attending high school football games or just hanging out at the church.

It was here behind these doors that I began let go of my difficult past and heal. For so long I had prayed to just be loved without condition but within these walls, where I have laughed till I cried and wept till the tears ran dry, I grew up and discovered that loving others unconditionally was far better. The people I met here became my extended family, riding the waves of the difficult teenage years together, sometimes fighting like brothers and sisters but always finding our way back on Sunday morning to line our favorite pew and share a few precious moments in prayer, song, sermon, and a laugh or two.

Today I still count many of them some of my dearest friends. They will never know just how grateful I am that God saw fit to send the kind pastor to our door many, many years ago. Or how glad I am that my grandma insisted against all my objections that we go. This would be the bright spot in my young life. This place…this faith…these people… would save me over and over again.

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