“So Christ Himself gave the apostles” to equip His people. . . . And Christ Himself gave Church of the Apostles, Anglican – to equip His people. . . .I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ gave Church of the Apostles to equip me!
I was not saved at this church. When I first came to Apostles, Easter Sunday, 1980, as a grad student at Maryland, I was already a Christian. But my experience of the reality and presence of Jesus in my life was only mine. I was used to going to church services in which we talked about Jesus, and sang about Jesus, but we never really shared our awareness of His presence there with us together. The worship service that Easter at Apostles was radically different from those. And awesome, ancient liturgy besides!
From that point on, Church of the Apostles, Episcopal, and eventually Anglican, was my church. One Sunday evening in the late fall of 1980, after we had moved into the Meeting Place on Pickett Road, I was baptized – along with about 70 other people! Luckily, I had grown up in The Salvation Army, which does not baptize at all, so I could experience my one and only baptism at Church of the Apostles (even though no one remembered to heat the baptismal pool and so when we passed through the waters of baptism, they were pretty cold!).
God brought me to Apostles and He has continued over the years through the regular blessing of good preaching, fellowship, and worship, and through special times of blessings through the ministry of Brennan Manning, Leanne Payne, and others, to build us Apostles up “in the knowledge of the Son of God” as the scripture passage says. Short term missions to Northern Ireland and Russia, and our identity as an Anglican Church helped to solidify my own calling to emphasize that we are one family with the worldwide Body of Christ.
I met my late husband, Francis, at Apostles. Although he was on the run from the Hound of Heaven, Francis knew where he was loved. He knew that there were people in the warehouse on Pickett Road, who, as the scripture passage says, were “humble and gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love.” He knew in his heart that if he would ever stop running from the Hound of Heaven, he could have a home at Apostles, as I had done, with so many wonderful people who love Jesus and love me.
Our daughter Fiona has grown up here, been nurtured here. You forget how blessed we are, and how special Apostles is…until you go visit family and go to church with them. Fiona and I would think, “No wonder they only have service for an hour…it is so boring…not like you’re in communion with the God of the Universe!”
Apostles has never been boring! We’ve always believed in what this scripture passage says – that there is a diversity of gifts from the Holy Spirit: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. We have shared those gifts and helped build up Christ’s Body near and far. And we have done so with extraordinary generosity.
One transforming moment for me was many years ago when the Ugandan pastor Kefa Sempangi came to Apostles. He described a church – persecuted, devastated, all but destroyed by the evil reign of Idi Amin. The suffering of fellow Christians so touched the people of Apostles, that when a collection was taken, Sempangi had over $100,000 to take back to Uganda. I later found out that one family gave the money they had intended for a kitchen remodeling; another decided they didn’t need to take a cruise.
Although I had little money to give, that day helped me see two truths as never before: the joy of giving to God’s work, and our oneness with those in Christ’s Body who are persecuted.
Today for me, Apostles’ Destined for Joy vision is connected to those truths. Our vision is community-centered, bringing the lost to Christ and making them disciples. And then, in the economy of God, (and because He knows the desired of my heart!) among the Apostles’ community of new disciples to whom grace will be given “as Christ has apportioned it,” some will be apostles – sent out to Fairfax, to DC, to Baltimore, to Nairobi, to Lahore, to Istanbul, to Damascus, to Baghdad, to Khartoum, to Isiolo; some will be prophets – speaking words of truth in the power of the Spirit; some will be evangelists – in their schools, on Grate Patrol, and in the shops; some will be pastors – of home groups, and of church plants and missions; and some will be teachers – teaching other believers about the joy of giving to God’s work, and about our oneness with Christ’s Body around the world.
I rejoice at being able to give as much as I am able, and beyond, to the capital campaign. It is a privilege to bless Church of the Apostles, which has blessed my family so much.