Christi Gabbard, our chair of deacons, shares with us why she and her family have found a home at Central.
Several years ago when I began attending Central, my first cousin had just died suddenly at age 38. When this happened I had no one at our current church that I felt I could turn to. I realized that I didn’t know who to call in this moment. We had already wondered if maybe we should change churches and this was the catalyst that said, yes, at least for me, it was time.
I came at first on a Wednesday night. Having grown up in church, and being a preacher’s kid, I knew that Wednesday night is where the real heart of the church is. At that point, we were still having prayer meeting. That first night, people welcomed me and reached out to touch me. Touch is one of my love languages - so I instantly felt loved. The rest of my family still had obligations at our former church, so I continued to come by myself on Wednesday nights. As our obligations dwindled, we began to come here on Sundays as well. Our Sunday school was led by Becky Colliver, and she always saw to it that we felt welcome. This was important because unbeknownst to most all of us in the class, we were all new.
While I love the way this church welcomes newcomers, it takes more than that for people to stay. As I remained in this class, we have challenged one another to see scripture in new ways - thinking of how God is calling us to act in community with one another. I feel comforted that while I cannot change all of the things wrong with the church as a whole and the world, I can contribute in some way or to someone who is making a difference.
I love Central because it strives to use our strengths for service. I feel so honored to not only be asked to be a deacon, and then chair, but to be allowed to write and direct our Christmas musical last year, teach Adult Sunday school, and sometimes play the piano in worship and other special services. I feel that my input and voice is valued, but not in a way where I am asked to do everything, or in a way where my voice is valued more than others. There is a balance here where people try to both listen and be heard. The staff here are always trying to adjust based on the needs and desires of the congregation, and the congregants are willing to make changes to meet those needs. While there have been many changes while my family has attended here, one thing has remained constant. That is the love that I feel from this group of believers. It comes in many forms - loving on me, believing in me, accepting me as I am, encouraging me, checking in on me and challenging me. I always leave this place with a sense of hope for myself, my family and the world. That is why I love Central.
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