The parish gathered on November 19 to celebrate the end of our Stewardship Campaign with a potluck dinner and a raffle. Lots of food and fellowship was shared, and the raffle doled out some fun, interesting and useful prizes. It’s always a good time when the Holy Cross family gets together for a meal and a good time.
I have been a member of Holy Cross my whole life. I was baptized here as a baby, I attended the first Atrium in the basement of the old church, and grew up enjoying all the levels of the Atrium and the Youth Group. My experience here has left me with a deeper understanding of community and has given me countless opportunities to open a new window into the rest of the world. Not only is Holy Cross a place for my family, but it is a place for everyone to gather and support each other all as children of God. Holy Cross continues to be the foundation for all of my beliegs, as well as somewhere I can just be myself.
Although Holy Cross is the only church I have ever known, I have a strong feeling we are very unique. When I discuss church with my friends from Bishop Brady High School, they exhibit the typical “teenage” responses of an overwhelming dread of Sunday mornings. Not only do they have to be dragged out of bed at an extraordinarily early hour, but they have to spend time with just their family. The fact that I have to spend time with my family at church doesn’t phase me much though, it’s actually one of my favorite aspects of Sundays. Holy Cross has introduced a time to build a stronger relationship with my family away from the stress of our busy schedules. I can’t imagine my life without this place because everyone here has become a member of my larger family.
This is a place where we can sing as loud as possible, no matter how our voices sound, a place where I can sit by myself and still feel like I’m included as a part of the family and a place where we are amused rather than bothered by the talkative children during the service.
This place is home, to all of us.
As I tried to put together this Stewardship Campaign, I realized how much Fr. John and Anne did for us. I know we’re supposed to look to the future and break some of those ties that we had, but I think it’s OK to look back and miss them. I realized this so starkly when I knew that there was no way I could put together those thoughtful and personalized words within the Pledge Letters, as he used to do. I know many of you, but certainly not all of you, and certainly not in that way that Fr. John knew you. In a way, I feel like we lost that “adult supervision” that we took for granted, particularly (for me at least) regarding God and other things spiritual. What do I know about stewardship? Who am I to head up the effort to fund Holy Cross and its mission? That was Fr. John’s Job!!!
But then Kerri reminded me, “Sometimes you don’t grow unless you have to”.
AND my how we’ve stepped up! Treasurer, Warden, Convention Delegates, Stewardship, Children’s Formation, Outreach, Search committee, Chicken Barbeque, the weekly “Cat Herding” that Will and Phyllis Townsend do to put together these beautiful services. WOW! There’s a lot of work to be done, but WE’RE DOING IT. We have two amazing interim ministers. Fr. Huddleston, your words are careful and thoughtful and prayerful. Bishop Walmsley, we’ve been blessed with your experience and wisdom for so long – when you give sermons, it’s almost like we’re not going through this transition.
It’s funny – the more I think about our theme this year, the better it sounds – “Sustenance”. We don’t need to change too many things for now. We don’t need a new building, we don’t need new landscaping, we don’t need anything new or big. What we have already is big enough. Sure we must continue to grow this congregation, but right now, our primary focus has to be on sustaining what we have.
All the Stewardship Campaigns we’ve done in the past were important – last year, with its theme of “Transition” propelled us forward with a record number of pledges. But for some reason this year seems more important than ever. This year is our opportunity to say to those search candidates – “Holy Cross is good”… “Holy Cross is worth it”.
The bottom line is that, I believe, God want Holy Cross to survive. God wants us to be successful. God want us to keep doing the good work we’ve been doing in this community for so many years.
I’ll begin by taking you back to 1935. I was a Roman Catholic. My Mom and Dad were French Catholic all their lives 90 some odd years. Then when I became a young man and I wanted to have a family of my own, I wanted them to go to the Roman Catholic Church. That lasted 24 years until I got divorced. Which changed my life.
A couple of years after that I met Ellie and she changed my life again – for the good. But in my mind there was a big void in my life, I went on with day-to-day life, but didn’t have a church. Then, Ellie and I decided to go to the island of St. Martin in the Caribbean. We’d gone to several other islands and enjoyed them, but the first night we were there, we walked to a restaurant, which you could see from the hotel and we heard a roar come up behind us and a man jumped out and put a 9 millimeter gun in my belly and demanded all of our money. He grabbed Ellie’s bag off her shoulder.
When we got back to Rhode Island, where we were living at the time, we were asking, “Why did it happen to us?” That man wanted to shoot me, but he didn’t. We felt we had an angel on our shoulders, And decided it was time to find a church. We went to St. Matthias and met Father Morgan and it was so close to the Roman Catholic Church, I felt very comfortable with it. Ellie and I became part of that church family for about six years, and enjoyed doing things for the Church.
Then we decided to move back to New Hampshire. We searched about 20 towns and ended up in Hillsborough, of all places. Then, it was time to search for a church. Hillsborough didn’t have an Episcopal church, so we tried a couple of Episcopal churches in nearby towns, but they didn’t feel right for us. Then we heard about Weare. Ellie’s brother had helped move the old church from East Weare to Weare Center years ago, and bragged about that, so we had that connection. A couple of days later Father John was sitting in our living room, explaining things to us about Holy Cross. I enjoy Father John and his sermons very much.
I feel apart of our new church building because I worked on it … painted the posts, and am proud that I was asked to help build the Altar and built the kneeler in front of the icon. I feel good about mowing and raking the lawn because it’s for the church.
We have some great people here… talented people here. In Rhode Island, I was the only one that would read the lessons and here there are a dozen and more people who read – not that I want to read, you all do fine. I’ve met some wonderful friends – John Heckman, Don and his wife, Marge, and all of you are great friends. I’ve seen kids grow up … mothers brought them in cradles and now they are practically grown up … I think Laura Arvin was one of the mothers.
I’m proud to be a part of Holy Cross
There is one word that encompasses my reasons for being here at Holy Cross – that word is “Balance” The last few years of my life have been like sitting on the low end of a see-saw, kind of stuck, not moving, just sitting there on the ground, not getting a chance to really enjoy the ride.
I came to Holy Cross to find “balance”. Now, I hover a little higher on the see-saw and sometimes I even get to soar to the top. I enjoy the sermons, the wonderful people, the parish itself, and its history.
Being here at Holy Cross helps me to unload the week’s trials, the past that still hovers, the pressures of life and to give myself this time to reflect and to find the balance I seek.
“I spent a long time trying to find my center until I looked closely one night and found it had wings and moved easily in the slightest breeze, so now I spend less time sitting and more time soaring.”
Holy Cross and the people I’ve met here at this parish have helped me rediscover those wings.
Note: Kathleen has been battling a rare form of cancer. Her courage and determination to give to others even as she works to heal herself has been an inspiration to all of us.
R: We were married at Christmas time in 1954, took a wedding trip for three days, and moved to a new apartment. Then I went back to complete my senior year of college.
A: We had our first argument during that trip. As I remember, it was about how to organize our kitchen. Up to then, you had never cooked a meal in your life.
R: You would remember that! But I could read a cookbook. And who were you to talk, living in a bachelor apartment? Besides, on your salary, which was $3600 a year, we had to settle for a $10 a week food budget, which meant an awful lot of casseroles.
A: The best thing we ever did, young and untested as we were, was to make a decision that has shaped our life ever since. We would tithe our income – the top ten percent would be returned to God, first through the Church and then by other charitable giving. We’ve stuck to that, and then some.
R: It hasn’t always been easy, especially in those years when both our children were away in school and I was working on a master’s degree. But somehow we managed, even in hard times.
A: Putting God first in respect to family income means having to plan carefully what is done with the rest. So what does tithing have to do with Holy Cross? Why here, and not somewhere else?
R: When we retired to New Hampshire, we were weary of being at the center of the huge diocese where you were bishop. So we looked for the biggest nearby church, hoping that no one there would ask us to do anything, such as serve on committees. We had enough of being leaders; it was time to be members. So we joined St. Paul’s in Concord. And the bonus was that I could practice on their organ, my first love after Arthur.
A: Then John arrived.
R: His energy and vision made us want to come here. We appreciate this imaginative building, good liturgy, John’s preaching (when we listen), even the way he sheepishly apologizes when he makes gaffes. There’s a diverse mix of people. We celebrate the wonderful ways that young people and their families are made welcome. We marvel what Anne and her colleagues have made of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. And we love the gifts of people of all ages, and Holy Cross’s outreach. In short, this is our home. The top part of our tithe goes to Holy Cross.
“Ministry Minutes” are presented each week during the fall pledge campaign.
I don’t have a story about how I helped bring the church out of the economic struggles in the ‘90s because at the time I was just learning how to tie my shoes. I don’t have a story about how I came to Holy Cross and fell in love with it because I’ve come here all of my life. I can’t tell of a life changing experience after listening to a sermon because quite honestly, I can’t focus for that long. I do know that I keep coming back after all these years and there has to be a reason for that.
What does Holy Cross mean to me? Well, to start off, Holy Cross is my church. But what does it mean? The phrase “my church” is possessive so therefore it must mean that I can keep part of it with me at all times, but so can the other millions of people that go to their church. Which is a good thing, I guess, because generally at church we learn how to be good and live in God’s light. But why do I come to Holy Cross and not a different church? I think it is because of the environment. Church is the only time I can think of where I can just let my mind wander and not have to worry about anything. Of course I listen to the sermons, but I also let myself relax and enjoy the peace. These few hours of peace are certainly appreciated in the high-stress world we all live in.
The other reason I come to Holy Cross is the people. The environment we create makes this church a welcoming, happy place. When I tell my friends that youth group usually consists of playing basketball, they all look at me in shock and tell me that is not what their youth group does. No, I cannot say that we are the most stereotypical group of people, but we do know how to enjoy life in the light of God. And now I realize what Holy Cross means to me: a place to teach me how to love myself and everyone around me and have a heck of a time doing so.
The Atrium. Children are welcomed and cherished in the Atrium. The whole idea is for children to fall in love with God and Jesus at a young age and to nurture that relationship. And how do they do that? Through meditative “work,” where things unfold and are not rushed. Where they wonder about God and Jesus. The kids love it because it’s meaningful and true.
Holy Cross is a place that grounds us as a family. It reminds us how to prioritize things in our lives. It reminds us what’s truly important on a weekly basis. The rest of the world seems crazy and consuming and sometimes I feel I’m losing myself in it. Then I come to church and it’s like taking a deep breath. It’s humbling . . . and simple.
Holy Cross is a community. At Holy Cross we are part of a community, a consistent group of people that we see each week because we want to, not because it’s an obligation. We gather for the purpose of worship in Jesus Christ, but also find friendship and support. Some of the people here at Holy Cross . . . I still don’t know their names, but I know their faces and their friendly smiles and I look forward to seeing them each week (and getting to know their names :) ).
I asked my kids, why is Holy Cross important to you? Maddy said, “It’s like a celebration for God.” Alex said, “It means that we’re praying. We’re talking to God and giving thanks. Maddy added, “Because we honor God and Jesus.” Alex said, “It’s because we like the baptism activity in the Atrium.”
I thought to myself, it’s because we are all a part of Holy Cross and we depend on it. And Holy Cross depends on us too.
I guess I would have to be called a cradle Roman Catholic. I came from a family where it was “you better be to church 15 minutes early,” “you better have all the prayers memorized,” and “you better not sneeze or cough while the priest is talking.” As I grew older, church kind of phased out of my life because I already knew all the readings and sermons but it just didn’t seem like it related to me.
I want to say something about the importance of Holy Cross, not just what it is, but what it stands for. I don’t think a person can really live a moral life without hoping that God loves us enough to die for us and wants us to love each other the same way. The only way we can show that we want to live up to that idea together is by attending the Holy Communion and symbolizing that we want to be united in Jesus’s sacrifice. Everybody in the world should be doing that together. I think that’s what Holy Cross stands for.