Tag Archive for 'John Heckman'

2010 Ministry Minute # 1 John Heckman

Holy Cross Senior Warden John Heckman, caught by surprise (for once).

Holy Cross Senior Warden John Heckman, caught by surprise (for once).

My mother had to leave Middlebury College at the height of the Great Depression after running out of tuition money. There was no work anywhere in her native Vermont and very little hope anywhere in New England, so she went to New York City to find a job and some sort of security in a very difficult time.

She settled in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn with some old family friends, found a job, and joined Christ Church, a long-time Episcopal foundation of the community. There, at a YPF (Young Peoples Fellowship) dance, she met my father, and after the usual courtship of the times, they were married. When my father returned from World War II, they moved to suburbia and joined St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Connecticut. I was born, baptized and confirmed there, and the church became 100% of our spiritual and social environment. My parents’ friends were in “our church,” so of course were my friends. My mother taught “Sunday School.” My dad was active in the “Men’s Club.” I flipped my first egg by his side at one of the monthly Communion Breakfasts. I was an acolyte, a crucifer, and very active in YPF. I joined the church-sponsored Boy Scout Troop. For years, I went to the summer camp owned by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. The highlight of every holiday season was the midnight candlelight service that always required folding chairs in the lobby. We never missed one. When I came home from college for Christmas vacation, a high point was having the honor of serving as an acolyte at the midnight service.

 I went off to college in 1968, and except for weddings, funerals, and the occasional baptism, never went back to the church. I do not know why.

Thirty-four years later, after successfully partnering with my wife to raise a family, sending the children off to college, attaining a reasonable level of professional success, maintaining friendships and becoming part of our New Hampshire community, a painful midlife crisis took its toll, and emerging on the other side, I was thankful to be there reasonably whole, and looking for a link to a much simpler time.

I showed up at Holy Cross one Sunday in 2002, sat in the back (where I still am), perhaps wearing shorts (as I do in all but the coldest months of winter) and found the connection I was looking for. Sitting next to me was someone I knew. “Welcome,” she said. And that was what I needed: a welcome with no judgment, no questions, just friendship. Church is a time every week I can count on with no cell phones, no computers and plenty of opportunity to reflect on all those things we have no time to think about during the week: A time to put things in proper perspective.

I always used to laugh at my Catholic friends who always “had to” go to church on non-Sunday evenings just to get in the time. When the period finally came in my life that the “have to” turned into the “want to,” it was time to reconnect; and the Holy Cross community was there waiting. Thank you.