Years ago, when we first moved here from San Francisco, we landed first in Vienna and attended Holy Comforter off and on. I don’t know if we ever became members. After four years there Jonnie Sue, my wife for those readers to whom I’m just a name, got my commute distance cut in half by finding a new home for us in Falls Church, where we attended St. Dunstan’s in McLean. By then our children were about 10, 12, and 14. Pretty quickly the kids were all acolytes and in youth group and Jonnie Sue was on the Altar/Flower/Garden Guild and ironing acolyte cottas. I went regularly on Sunday morning to church and to coffee hour, but that was all. After a long time of this, a couple of years, if memory serves, I began to wonder why there wasn’t more. My time there on a Sunday after all those months wasn’t a lot different from my first Sunday there. Somehow it occurred to me, that if I was ever going to get beyond being on the periphery of things I had to get involved in something, in some parish activity; it almost didn’t matter what. Since I see myself as basically a teacher, I volunteered to take a Sunday School class. I hadn’t given a lot of thought as to which grade, but I had envisioned high schoolers. All my prior teaching experience had been college level. The Sunday School Superintendent said he needed someone to take the fourth grade. Not wanting to say ‘no’ at that point I said OK. And it was great; I loved it, and the kids seemed to relate to me. A few months later a need arose for a teacher for 6th grade, and Jonnie Sue took that. Through this beginning, I finally got to know people – other teachers, parents of students, and, of course, the students – at a deeper level than Sunday morning coffee hour chit-chat. It broke the ice so to speak and before long, I was the Sunday School Superintendent; then assisting as a Lay Reader and Chalice Bearer, and later the Junior Warden.

The point of this is to be a word of advice to anyone out there who feels on the periphery of things and wonders if there should be more Get involved in some parish activity; it almost doesn’t matter what. But it will probably be good to inquire about where the needs might be. And be open to taking on something that you might not have considered on your own. The needs of St. Alban’s and of any other parish are many and varied. The good news is that you’ll be gratefully, most appreciatively, welcomed.

Ron Hicks, Parish Verger, St. Alban’s Episcopal Church, Washington DC

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2 Responses to Involved

  1. Dennis Jones says:

    Ron, I recall responding to a fellow parishioner about a year ago, who said she did not know how to do more for the parish, that she should offer herself and see what into what space she ‘fit’.

    However, I know that there are also some parishioners who feel ‘uninvolved’ because they have not been asked to make a contribution. To them, too, I’ve suggested that they try to let the clergy or lay leaders know that. Of course, that may be somewhat contradictory situation, that is awkward or not easily resolved.

    Maybe, your message is one that needs to also be heard or stated from the pulpit or some other common platform.

  2. Kitty Bayh says:

    Ron – yes, you are a teacher. You taught me how to be verger, but mostly you teach what calmness and faith look like instead of panic. And what compassion looks like. Thank you. Kitty

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