The lovely St. Laurence Church in Southlake, Tx just off of Kimball and 114 became my church home the Fall of 2010. For years leading up to the summer, when I would take the “back roads” to get to Costco or 1709, I would pass this picturesque church and think to myself, when I am ready to go to church, that is where I want to go.
Why? Because it was and is just so pretty and perfect looking. Not too big, but not too small. Surrounded by established trees and honestly, you could tell from the outside that there wasn’t a jumbo tron video screen on the inside. It was St. Laurence Episcopal Church and if you could say I was raised in any church, it would have to be the Episcopalian Church so that part seemed to fit too.
In 2010 when God woke me up from concentrating solely on myself, I knew it was time to finally visit St. Laurence. So I called my sister Evah who was attending St. Matthias Church in Dallas, where my dad and his wife serve the Lord and where my mom chose for her ashes to be kept. Evah would be able to guide me on what to do and how to act, as I knew just enough about Episcopalian Church services to be confused.
It was Fourth of July weekend when we walked in for the first time and let me tell you, the inside is even prettier than the outside. We selected a pew on the right side and it seemed to be a sign from God that He was glad that we were there when the sun shown thru one of the very few circular stain glass windows and landed on us like a spotlight.
After the service, Joanne Visney, a lovely lady whom we sat behind, invited us to the Parrish Hall for refreshments and she was kind enough to introduce us to others. I remember, everyone kept apologizing about how few people were there as it was Fourth of July weekend but it all seemed perfect to me.
I can’t remember if that was the weekend after the junior or high school mission retreats or if the following weekend was but after getting our bearings, we decided to try sitting in the Southern transept because the sun shown through those windows and we hoped it might not be as refrigerated there from the air conditioning. It wasn’t really the case but I came to find that those were my favorite seats because I had a front row view on everything. As God knows, I prefer sitting up front in any learning situation so that I can hear better.
At that point, Evah hadn’t been attending her church very regularly mainly due to the long drive from her home in Arlington. St. Mathias is the church my parents chose when they looked for a new church home after they remarried one another. Evah was in her teens at that point and went through confirmation class with our mom there. Evah had been attending St. Mathias for at least 15-20 years. That summer, Evah attended with me every Sunday until the Fall came. She missed her church home and family and the way they do things at St. Mathias so she returned to their services about the time that I started taking confirmation classes at St Laurence.
St. Laurence quickly became my church home and participating in the Christian Formation class helped me to know others in the church and to better understand all the ends and outs and whys behind the ceremonial aspects of our church services. By the Spring, after some little pushes from God via the movie “Waiting for Superman” and attending The Road Adventure, I visited Gainesville State School with the St. Laurence prison ministry group headed up by Carl Lapiska and found a major calling in that area.
I was confirmed in June, 2011 and continued to jump in with both feet. I participated in Vacation Bible School, helping my friend Jean with her pre-school class, helped with our GRACE Feed The Children week and returned to Christian Formation to be a sponsor. In January 2011, since I wasn’t yet confirmed in the church, I couldn’t vote in the annual church meeting and by January 2012, when I could vote, I was voted to be a three year member of the church’s Vestry team.
Fast forward to today. Today, the Texas Supreme Court is hearing arguments between The Episcopal Church (TEC) and The Episcopalian Diocese of Ft. Worth and many other Texas Dioceses regarding church property. St. Laurence Church chose to separate from The Episcopal Church before I ever started to attend St. Laurence for a variety of reasons. And if I understand correctly, The Episcopal Church believes that even though our church chose to leave the actual building and property belongs to them and they want it back or they simply don’t want us to have it.
This is happening all over the United States and in many other states, TEC has won. Whether it is fair or not, or even right in God’s eyes, we are hoping that through today’s arguments that a decision will be made. We know that if we lose the church property and the beautiful building that the members who were there before me contributed to a built, that actually brought me there, we will be okay and we will simply find a new home for our church family. It is simply a building – the church is God, Jesus and the body that we make together.
The other two possibilities are that the court will find in our favor or they will say this needs to return to lower courts for an actual full court case. The latter option is what we pray does not happen because that will keep us in limbo for many more years to come and expenses to be wasted on lawyers, courts, etc. So today, we are praying that our heavenly Father, Lord of All, King of Kings and creator of the heavens and earth, brings clarity to the Texas Supreme Court judges hearing the case so that a final decision can be made in the months to come.
If we must leave our building behind, we know we will survive, prosper and grow stronger in the Lord through the adventure and bonding that will come from rebuilding. Some of our church family may not stick around because the bricks and mortar or no fuss is what they prefer and that is okay too.
What a blessing for me that the building brought me to this extended church family and it will always hold a special place in my heart as it will for many others who have raised their families there, had their children christened there, their weddings there and their funerals there. And what a charge, the Lord has lead me on by placing me and my fellow Vestry team members on during this time.