In high school some of the adults in my church suggested I would be a good addition to the Bishop’s Committee, the elected group of people who ran the congregation. So I ran for the office and I sat on the committee for a term.
Just before graduation I got a call from a man I knew at church. He said a few of them had been talking and they wanted to nominate me to go to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. I didn’t know what that was but it sounded interesting enough, so I ran for that position as well. I was elected as an alternate and I went to the convention.
At my last high school youth conference I was handed an envelope with my name on it. Inside was a card inviting me to come visit Covenant House, the campus ministry at UW. So I went.
After a year or so at Covenant House I was asked to be a peer minister, so I did that too.
I wasn’t going to run for General Convention a second time, but a friend insisted I put my name on the ballot. I was a write-in candidate and I was elected a regular deputy this time.
After college I didn’t really have a church and wasn’t sure where I should go. My mother was working for the office of the Bishop at the time, and someone from St. Peter’s Episcopal asked if she knew any college kids or recent grads that might be interested in teaching Sunday School. She said she could think of at least one pretty easily. I interviewed and am still there more than six years later.
When I look back on my life of faith, I can’t help but wonder if I had anything to do with it. I would have left in Junior High but John was there. I would have left in high school but I was scheduling coffee hour and sitting on the Bishop’s Committee. I would have left in college but I was a peer minister and a deputy to General Convention. I might have even left after that, but I had lessons to plan. It may seem strange to imagine me leaving the church accidentally, but faith is not the same as religion. I don’t think I would have ever accidentally stopped believing in God. But I think it’s possible I could have casually wandered away from my own religion had I not been constantly nudged back into it.
We are spiritual by nature, but religious by habit. If one were to believe that God reaches down into daily life and intervenes on our behalf, one would have to conclude that my life in the church is the product of persistent divine nagging. I don’t hold to such a belief, so it must have been the nagging of people who love me. Yet if God is nothing else, it is the love we give to others to set them on a better path. So perhaps it was God that made me religious after all.