My first two weeks working at St Stephen's Episcopal Church in Lynn have allowed me to see the beauty that fills the community where I will serve during my year in Life Together.
When I first arrived in Boston last month, I began to hear stories about St. Stephen's. I heard about how the church had hosted Diocesan convention last year and the hospitality they had shared with hundreds of guests. I also heard about how the church was deeply invested in the community of Lynn, and how neighbors knew they were always welcome. And I heard that people of St Stephen's work hard.
These words that I took on faith came true in my sight from the first moment that I stepped into the building for Sunday service. I felt welcomed at once as people came to introduce themselves, ask where I was from, and offer cold-weather advice to a native son of North Carolina. I heard prayers offered for the concerns of the city of Lynn, and announcements made about the needs of the food pantry, the homeless shelter, and the retirement community. And I felt the rush of activity at St Stephen's as I found myself volunteered for jobs I didn't know existed.
My two weeks working in the office have been much the same. I spent time reading through the annual report, just getting to know the work of the parish, and meeting the people who call St Stephen's home.
I received a tour of the historic building, complete with stories about the founding of the church, and a lesson on how to turn on the lights from Chris, our Junior Warden. I spent a little time in the community garden in the church yard, learning how to tell if cucumbers are ready to pick, and listening to parishioners Harry and Victoria tell their favorite recipes for freshly picked tomatoes. Working with Rev. Dorothella, our associate rector, I reviewed the Church School curriculum in preparation for substitute teaching whenever there's a need.
Throughout these two weeks, I've seen first hand the beauty of this parish, and the love that embraces all who walk through the church doors. It was the same beauty I imagined when I first applied to work at St Stepehen's, and the same love I heard in the voices of the people who invited me to come and join the work of the church in the city of Lynn. As I begin my year working at St Stephen's, my prayer is that the God who gave me eyes to see Love at work in this community, would also give me eyes to see how I can serve this community as we worship in the beauty of holiness.
By Andrew Phillips, 2011-12 Micah Fellow at St. Stephen's, Lynn