By Jeanette Kania
One of my favorite books is The Way of a Pilgrim. It was first published in the 19th century, and I would likely never have picked it up if I hadn’t read J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. I read both of these books at a time when I was trying to find my roots as a Christian. I knew what I was raised to believe, but I was still on a journey to discover what I truly believed.
My first experience at Grace was back in October when I came into the office after having seen online that there was going to be a class for those interested in learning more about the Episcopal Church. Two weekends prior to my first experience at Grace, I was driving through Grand Rapids with my husband, Michael. We noticed a big white church with red doors that had a rainbow flag flying outside. Later that week, I googled the Episcopal Church. I was surprised to find that many of the beliefs of the church aligned with my personal beliefs. I was ecstatic to learn that the Episcopal church was liturgical (something that I really love and would greatly miss if I had found a community that was not liturgical). After some more quick googling, I found Grace Church and was pleasantly surprised to see one of my students from the Montessori school where I work on the homepage.
I have spent the majority of the past decade attending many of the churches in Grand Traverse County. I was raised in a Lutheran church and attended a Lutheran school. I’ve been through confirmation classes before; when I was in junior high, it was expected that when I entered seventh grade, I would also start the two year process of preparing to make my confirmation. I have memories of learning the history of the church, denominational-specific doctrines, and other theological topics.
In our Wednesday night classes leading up to our reception, Donna and I learned about the history of the church and doctrines of the Episcopal and other churches. We also talked about where we came from and what brought us to this point. I found this to be vital in my joining the church. Our conversations about our backgrounds led us down paths to discuss a wider breadth of topics relevant to our faith than we would have, had we merely stuck to a specific lesson plan. I feel like I made true connections with people at Grace through the period leading up to my being received. I also feel like it gave me the opportunity to be more introspective and cognizant of my own values and beliefs.