As published in the August 8 & 15 edition of The Adventurer.
My small-group journey is a story of how God moved me from a seat in the basement of the Advent back to a pew in the Nave, and through his grace and mercy changed my heart.
About 20 years ago, despite being curious about opportunities for biblical study, my circumstances were threatening my sense of belonging to the body of the church. I had recently become divorced and entered a 12- step recovery program. Both labels – divorce and addiction – held me hostage and in a self-imposed lockout from the doors to the Advent. In tandem, guilt and shame were powerful gremlins that voiced the mantra: “You do not belong there anymore.”
To assuage this voice, I chose to attend another Episcopal church. Although I had one foot pulling me away from worship at the Advent, I miraculously had the other fully planted in a different part of the Advent: the basement where I attended recovery meetings. God used this unassuming space to bring me back into fellowship with him and to open the way to grow with others through small groups.
Around this time, I accepted an invitation to join an Alpha course which explores fundamentals of the Christian faith. At this gathering at the Advent, I joined a table with other potential small-group enrollees. A gentleman at my table disclosed in his introduction that he was a divorcee. In that moment, I no longer felt different, and I saw the opportunity for relationship with fellow believers.
My experiences during Alpha encouraged me to commit to small group participation. I am now part of a men’s small group, which has been together for more years than I can recall. From my participation in small groups, I have received instruction from others of God’s plan for our daily living, and as a result I know without hesitation that I belong to him, and through him, to each of us.
This summer we are working on forming new groups that will begin in the fall. Please contact Fontaine Pope if you are interested.