Heavenly Sunshine

Stewardship Reflection, Friday, October 29

By: Charlie Bryan

Some fifteen years ago, Cammy and I were looking for a new church home. We were becoming dissatisfied with the church where we were longtime members. It had begun to make changes that rubbed us the wrong way such as the abandonment of the traditional hymnbook in favor of one of so-called “contemporary Christian music.” I simply could not adapt to that switch in style. The passage from Psalm 100 of “make a joyful noise unto the Lord” was increasingly joyless for us.

With an exterior that was 1970’s style in design and look, little natural light made its way through small stained-glass windows into the sanctuary which was symbolic overall of a certain melancholy that seemed to hang over the congregation. In our fifteen years as members, we had four ministers, two of whom were specifically asked to leave the church. When the annual financial appeal was made, we grappled with deciding how much to pledge. With all those distractions we rarely felt the presence of God. Finally, we agreed to look elsewhere.

Leaving one church and going to another, however, is not easy. Over the years, we had made many friends, most of whom we served together as elders and with committees. That’s where St. Mary’s comes into the story.
Much to my surprise, Cammy suggested that we give St. Mary’s a try. She was a lifelong Presbyterian who persuaded me, a Baptist, to join her faith soon after we married in 1969. But she said there was something about St. Mary’s that had always appealed to her. We had driven by it numerous times, and both the church itself and the tranquil wooded grounds with a churchyard had drawn us.

We showed up one Sunday morning, where we were greeted warmly as we entered. I was struck by how bright it was as sunlight poured into the sanctuary. I couldn’t help but think about an old Baptist hymn, “Heavenly Sunshine.”
Heavenly Sunshine! Heavenly Sunshine!
Flooding My Soul With Glory Divine
Hallelujah, I am Rejoicing
Singing his Praises. Jesus is Mine!

The beautiful sounds coming from choir loft and accompanying organ were divine and a stimulating sermon by Christopher Brookfield topped it all off. On our way home later, Cammy and I agreed that we had found the right church for us even after only one try.

A few months later after numerous return visits, we were confirmed as members of St. Mary’s. Not once have we regretted that decision. We can thank God that we have found a church home that has so much going for it—a caring clergy, great preaching, splendid music, outreach to those in need, and a friendly group of worshipers.

Sometimes I wonder how much we realize what a special place St. Mary’s is. That alone should guide our giving generously for the year ahead so that we can continue in heavenly sunshine.