Hi, my name is Doey Gordon and my husband Bill and I came to Wesley a little over two years ago after much searching to find a place of worship that mirrored what we believed was following in Jesus’ way. We had been members of a church for a very long time when we lost our beloved priest. With the loss came another priest that was very conservative and strict in law. When our daughter was to marry someone of the Lutheran faith we were told he would not be able to receive communion at their wedding. “How, my daughter asked, can we become one and then I receive communion but he cannot.” Those words uttered sent us on a journey to find a new church that followed more closely in Jesus’ example. Along our path to Wesley we visited countless churches. Some seemed like college classes or biblical seminars, but lacked the sacredness we sought. Some seemed like rock concerts and we’d come out with our ears ringing! We’d stay for a while at a church, visiting several Sundays in a row until something would be shared during a service that sent us running! One time it was a church counseling information session shared by a minister that included; “How to help cure someone who had homosexual tendencies”. Out we ran! Another time it was a series presented at a church where each Sunday the minister talked about the way other churches had things wrong. After one such service I challenged the minister over something he said about the church I had loved and been a part of my whole life. He told me that I had it all wrong, that he had been studying it for the last three weeks and he knew it better. Bill had to run hard to catch up with me that time!
There are many churches in the Champaign – Urbana area and Bill and I visited the majority of them.
We are so very thankful for that one Sunday morning when we came to Wesley.
The music drew us in and it had a pureness about it. Its sole purpose was clear. It was a vehicle to praise God.
“We welcome and extend the Grace of God to everyone”, we heard the congregation say. Aaaahh, to everyone. Not just to those who looked like them, or believed in exactly the same way, but to everyone. How warm it felt.
As I looked around I saw a simple wooden cross standing at the side toward the front of the church. Roughly woven cloth surrounded candle light. Nothing fancy, or showy, just a simple way of honoring God in a place His followers chose to gather.
And then the minister spoke. He spoke of Jesus in the most beautiful way. He spoke of the way Jesus lived His life and cared for others. He guided everyone to see more clearly how we can use Jesus example to live our lives and to serve one another.
Prayers were offered for members who were going through trying times and for those who were celebrating wonderful moments in their lives. And then the congregation was asked what they would want others to join them for in prayer. Care radiated for one another.
When it was time for Communion I heard the words I believed with my whole heart. That this table did not belong to any one of us, or any church, but it belonged to Jesus and He He invited everyone to come and feast with Him. My heart felt at home.
Without exception, this is what I have experienced each week as I have come here to church. The pureness of purpose, the feeling of peace, and the sense of community are truly remarkable. I am excited on Saturday night when I know I will get to come to a service filled with God’s love, and that it will help me grow closer to God, and through that, feel joy.
I longed for it, and I found it, here at Wesley.
Becoming – Well, I am still unfolding – I hope to always be — I know that this place –Wesley United Methodist Church – will help me.
I believe each minister at Wesley is God’s instrument in our lives, helping us along our path to grow and serve others in Jesus way. Their words nourish my soul.
I am thankful for a church that prays alongside me when my heart is aching for a family who has lost a child. It gives me strength to offer care for another day.
I am grateful for a church that feeds the countless that grow hungry, with its corridors significantly narrowed by rice and beans and cans to fill those whose bellies are empty.
I love belonging to a church that flies a rainbow flag signaling to all that Jesus is alive and well here, and that all are welcome in His house.
And I love a church, my church, that knows, it is not their table but Jesus table.
All these things will help me to become more fully what God has envisioned for me. And for that I am forever grateful.