On Saturday October 16th, 2010, Loren Lee was confirmed as a member of the Episcopal Church by Bishop Tom Shaw. The day after his confirmation, he offered these words to our congregation here in Newburyport.
First and foremost, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude for St. Paul’s continued support and encouragement throughout my Confirmation process. I would like to take this time to talk about how I came to the community of St. Paul’s and the Episcopal Church and how I chose this community as my family of faith.
I was born and raised in the Baptist Church. From an early age, I remember attending Sunday school each week and learning about the many fascinating stories in the Bible. I asked many questions in class much to my Sunday school teacher’s dismay like “how did Noah fit all those animals on a boat?” or “how did Jonah survive living in a fishes stomach?” I received the same response from my teacher that this was the Word of the Lord and had to have faith that this was so. I appreciate the more poetic and liturgical understanding of scripture that the Episcopal Church embraces.
I began my Christian journey with a full immersion baptism. I was ecstatic when I was invited by my pastor to be baptized. I felt that much closer to my faith and church community. I remember spending several days drafting my Baptism speech and finally delivering it in the chilly Baptismal font.
As I grew older, I continued to be actively involved in the church through my love and passion for music. I routinely played the violin and piano during services, sang in the choir and performed in church musicals. Being a classical musician, I had a great affinity for composers such as Bach, Mozart and Schubert. I remember requesting to play Ave Maria for one of our upcoming church services and it being quickly dismissed as being “too Catholic”- much to my disappointment. I thought to myself, music was my own way of showing my love and faith to God and he wouldn’t know the difference.
Several years passed and I began to experience the challenges of a broken family. Much to my parent’s efforts through pastoral and church counseling, they were unable to keep their marriage together. I quickly learned how one can question their faith and church community. I began to feel a sense of distance and austerity from my fellow church members. I asked myself “would God encourage his people to turn their backs on one another?” Shortly after my parents’ separation and eventual divorce, I left the Baptist Church with regret and disappointment.
The next several years into adulthood were about exploring spirituality and faith. I was convinced after my family’s ordeal that religion and spirituality were a personal matter. I began attending various denominational services. I was seeking a calling for a family of faith that would be a far departure from my past experience. Through this journey I observed many similarities among religions. Followers were seeking a higher power and relied on faith as a motivating factor.
About three years ago, I moved to the Newburyport area and began to make a life here. I opened my own private violin studio from my home and started teaching students of all ages. Of those students, I had the privilege of taking on a young, motivated student, Sam Acquaviva. In attendance at every lesson were his parent’s Paul and Susan Acquaviva. After one of our lessons, we discussed the topic of churches and I mentioned about my efforts to find a community of faith. They had asked me if I had heard of St. Paul’s and encouraged me to attend. Taking their advice, I attended my first service at St. Paul’s this time last year. I remember being a bit leery, but after being warmly welcomed by the parishioners and Martha I knew that I had found my family of faith.
This year, I was faced with a series of health issues and I was touched by the amount of care and concern I received from St. Paul’s. I look back fondly at the time I was admitted to the hospital and Martha came to visit unexpectedly. This moment confirmed not only the church’s love and support for its family, but also my decision to become a member of St. Paul’s and the Episcopal Church.
Looking to the future at St. Paul’s, I am excited about the many opportunities I will have to continue to serve God and the church through music ministry and stewardship. I am blessed to have “confirmed my faith” in the Episcopal Church and in all of you.
God bless! –Loren Lee