Why Wesley?: Ryan and Linda Larsen
Linda and I were both raised in devout Christian families. We wanted to raise our children similar to how we were raised: grounded in a life of faith. However, in the 14 years since we had our first child, our own faith has evolved and changed significantly. While earning a Ph.D. in applied physics, I fell in love with science. I came to believe that doing good science requires willingness to question everything, and brutal honesty in interpreting facts. For a time, it seemed to me that these values were in conflict with a life of faith. I had many questions, and eventually I found the men’s bible study group at Wesley to be place where I could have an honest conversation about what it means to have a life of faith in today’s world. I met many older men with a wealth of experience and education to share. I encountered many new ways of thinking of God and the bible. After several years of attending bible study, I began to attend worship services at Wesley more often. I have heard many powerful messages that have resonated with me. These include:
- Faith is not just about what I believe, it’s about what I do.
- My journey of faith is about becoming the unique person that God made me to be.
- Prayer and worship are essential to Christian life, and can lead to transformation and change.
- Salvation is not strictly personal, it’s also communal, and we need each other.
- Christianity teaches us to be the body of Christ in the world, and to work for a world that is more just and fair.
Initially, attending Wesley was Ryan’s thing—I was happy that he’d found a place where he could be himself and grow spiritually. I saw that it was very healing for him to be here. I appreciated how the men in Bible study watched out for Ryan and were enthusiastic about his interfaith efforts, even when they seemed a little crazy to me.
But we were also members of our Mormon congregation, and we had obligations there. I wasn’t that interested in starting over in a new place.
I would join Ryan on occasion at Wesley. Gradually his Wesley friends became my friends, and I found myself coming here more often–not just for Sunday services but for other events as well. The sermons were always inspiring. I felt my heart open up a little more when I was at Wesley.
In our time with you, we have had many lively and enriching discussions. Our kids tag along to Sunday services and other events. Though there aren’t many kids their ages, they are welcomed and loved, and people find ways to include them and make them feel special.
We have never felt pressure to abandon our other congregation. So we come and go, enjoying the wisdom of both faith traditions and feeling lucky to belong to both. Thank you for helping us belong.
One word to describe Wesley? Safe.