Monday, December 2, 2013

Fulfilling Freedom Moment by Katie Crockford

Fulfilling Freedom Moment

     Good morning! My name is Katie and a week or so ago, Jimmy and Kandy Hamilton asked me if I would be willing to do a Fulfilling Freedom moment. They said that I could talk about anything that had to do with the new building, the campaign, or what the church means to me in general. My first reaction was sure, this should be easy, but then I began to really think about it. I began to realize just how much is here at the church that I take for granted and just how much all of it means to me. But I knew, I couldn't cover everything in one morning, so I would like to share my testimony with you guys about how I learned to serve God and the church, through the old building, the new building, and the Fulfilling Freedom campaign.

      To start off with, my family and I have been a part of this church since my mom, Sarah, became the Children's Director here, in the year of 2001. Some people might say that church for them is a place to pray, a place to hear and learn the word of God, or an environment of people that share the same beliefs as them, but if someone were to ask what the church is to me, I would say a second home and a second family. 
      When my family and I first joined St. John's, I was 2 years old and my grandfather had just passed away after a long battle with brain tumors and a series of strokes. To say that his death was devastating to our family would be an understatement, and starting off at a new church and for my mom a new job during such hard times, quite frankly was nerve-racking. But it didn't take us long to realize that we had nothing to be nervous about. St. John's seemed to be the church where we fit in. We were welcomed by many people and it was clear to us that St. John's was the church where we were meant to be.

     At the time we joined, it was just my mom, my dad, me, and my grandmother, Lesley, who decided to join with us. I would like to take a minute to share my perspective of what St. Johns was like at that time, before the new building. I was only 2, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. There was a total of 4 nursery classrooms and one children's bathroom. I can remember spending many Sunday mornings in this area. There were several kids crammed into each classroom and there was not a lot of space to move around. My mom’s office was in the library across from the sanctuary, away from all the other staff. There was not yet a preschool program, the after school program was crammed in Huddleston Hall, there was no Contemporary worship service, or rotation Sunday school for the elementary aged kids. I can also remember many Vacation Bible Schools where all of the kids were crammed into the sanctuary instead of having the open space of the core.

     A few years later, when I was about 4 or 5 years old, and my brother was born, I began hearing talk about a new children's and youth building being built, and I became excited. I can remember my mom telling me about the new rotation Sunday school program we would have and how the nursery was going to grow. But along with everyone's excitement, I can remember lots of people feeling uneasy about such a big change in the church. People were always asking whether or not it was really a good idea and why couldn't we just leave things the way they were. But I can assure you that everything was well worth it in the end.

     When the building was complete, I was in the 3rd grade and the changes in St. John's were unbelievable. There are now nursery classrooms for every age group with plenty of space, a preschool that consists of nearly 150 children and a very long waiting list, a full after-school program with its own space and much more. I can remember starting rotation Sunday school. Our first rotation was all about Daniel and the Lion's Den, and instead of just reading about it, we got to learn about it through music, movies, cooking, drama, and art. Through the new building, the church has also added a Contemporary worship service, a new space for Quest, and well you get the point. The list goes on and on. But then there was one problem. St. Johns was now in a lot of trouble financially because the new building put the church in a lot of debt. I can remember everyone being stressed out all the time wondering what we were going to do to fix the problem. A few years later I began hearing talk about the Fulfilling Freedom Campaign.

     I am ashamed to say it, but I have to admit that I was one of those people that wasn't too sure about the campaign at first. I had a lot of what-if questions. Questions like what if no-one commits to giving anything, and even if they do, what if people don't follow through with what they committed to? But, boy was I wrong. In fact, I get the honor this morning of announcing to you that the church has now raised $1,432,113.80. I would also like to add that through the campaign, not only has the church grown through the financial part of the campaign, but I have also noticed the church growing closer together as a family through serving on the various committees and so forth.

     Now you are probably wondering what this has to do with how I learned to serve the church and why in the world am I telling you things about the building that you may already know, but I am getting to that. I count myself blessed because as I have grown, I have gotten to see the church grow in its ministries as well. When the church added a building just for the children and youth, I realized that we are expected to make up a part of the church as well and that serving in the church isn't just for the adults. I realized there was a reason the church made such a sacrifice for the children and youth-- so we could have a better opportunity to know what it is to be a disciple. Since the new building, I have become an active volunteer in things like iServe, teaching rotation Sunday school, assisting with children's choirs, playing the trumpet during some of the services, helping with Vacation Bible School, acolyting, many years of the CROP walk, serving on the youth council, mission trips such as Salkehatchie, and even things like Journey to Bethlehem. Some people assume that I participate in all of those things because my mom works here and I don't have a choice, but they're wrong. On occasion something will be out of my comfort zone, and I will have to think with the "do it for Jesus and get over it" mindset, but most everything is done by choice. Over the past several years, I have grown to love serving in the church and most of it is by choice because I love spending time here. The congregation and staff have helped raise me and over the years have all become my church family which I would not trade for anything. Thank you!