Spoken at 10/17/21 Holy and Choral Eucharist
My name is Melissa Lee and I became a member of Grace 21 years ago. I moved to SF from England and had not planned to ever join a church. My feelings about church came from my childhood experiences and they were that church was a rigid, dogmatic and scary place. I felt very strongly about this and my boyfriend, now husband, who was a member of Grace knew better than to suggest I ever came with him!
However, I did go to a talk given by the dean at the time Alan Jones and he said several things that surprised me. He said that it was not only ok to ask questions but encouraged people to do so and that everything was open for discussion. He also said that if at any time anyone felt uncomfortable at Grace they should ‘run down the aisle and leave’! Those two things were enough to pique my interest so I started coming to the 8.30 service with my boyfriend. I was amazed at how welcoming and peaceful Grace was and most importantly every sermon challenged me spiritually and intellectually. I went on to take classes and was reaffirmed by the Bishop. I had been confirmed at age 13 and it meant nothing to me at that time. It took a very special place to make me feel so safe and welcomed to want to recommit to a Christian life of faith.
My husband and I were married here at Grace and our three children were baptized here. It has been for me an unexpected and wonderful experience to be part of such a loving community. Our twin boys arrived early and spent their first week in the NICU. It was a scary time. On our second day there, Virginia, a member of Grace Clergy, arrived in the NICU. To this day I have no idea how she knew we were there. It meant so much to us that she came to pray with us and bless our babies. And our prayers were answered, our tiny 4lb boys are now thriving 6’ 4” sixteen-year-olds.
We moved to the East Bay and with three small children, it was hard to keep coming over the bridge to Grace. We did some ‘church shopping’ over there but never found anything that felt anything close to Grace. One thing I realized during this process is that one of the many things that makes Grace so unique is that even though my husband and I are in different places on our spiritual journey we both feel at home here.
Now our kids are older and we have more time, it feels so wonderful to re-engage with Grace again. It is such a special place for so many reasons: the loving and wise staff, the music, the programs and for me most importantly a safe and welcoming place for everyone. Grace is a place to just be at peace where you are or to challenge yourself to learn and grow.
We pledge because we feel so strongly about supporting Grace to ensure it continues to flourish. Before I joined the stewardship committee I thought that pledges had to be large amounts. I was surprised to learn that a quarter of the 2021 pledges were less than $500. If we all come together as a community and give what we can, all these small pledges add up to make such a huge difference and they enable the cathedral to plan ahead. I am reminded of something my grandmother taught me ‘save the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.
I invite you to join us in pledging and helping to support Grace to continue being such an extraordinary place of worship, support and learning. It’s easy to do on the Grace website or there are brochures on the table at the entrance and in the pews of the Nave.