We planted our family here shortly after our daughter Ella was born and a year or so before our son Jack came along. A warm welcome when greeted by church members, loving visits to our home by the ministers, and the outstanding reputation of the preschool made us stick around and get to know the place. Being a family with a mixed denominational background, we found comfort and camaraderie in the Robert Smart Class, full of Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians, and Methodists, many young parents and all curious believers anxious to apply the example of Jesus Christ in the world today. As that group became more like family, River Road became more like home. Our plant took root.
Since coming here we have committed to participate and have been many times blessed by those opportunities. The Boards of Administration, Missions, Deacons, and many other committees have not only provided the satisfaction of serving but also the fruits of friendship and personal growth. In Sunday School we have taught children and adults and deepened our own faith in the process. The preschool has provided employment, professional satisfaction, and loving friendships for Amber. The men’s groups and sports teams have become a gang of fellowship for Shawn. We have been shown the confidence to stand where wonderful christian mentors have stood before. We have known humility serving those less fortunate through CARITAS, Stop Hunger Now and more.
This church has cared for, nurtured and taught our children as if they were their own, just as you pledged on their dual dedication. They attended preschool, WorshipCare, Sunday School, and Children’s Church, and now Youth. They (sometimes) sing in the choir and participate in worship. They chose to be baptized with all of our encouragement, and find common cause with their friends seeking a life in Christ. They have attended PASSPORT camps, Unidiversity Camp, and a life-changing trip to Maine. We can see the love of God sprouting from these branches of our family.
We sit up front during worship, to occasional protests. The unmatched musical program stirs our emotion and the thoughtful-yet-never-easy sermons challenge our souls. The Sanctuary quiets our minds and puts us undeniably in the presence of the Lord. Our location means literally everyone has our back. We sing, smile, cry, and hold one another. His glory blooms.
Despite our individual faith backgrounds, neither of us have ever really questioned giving to the church. We see making a weekly or annual offering as both right and good. A conversation with Mike some years ago has provided a solid model for our pledge: give what you can this year and then next year ask yourself to give a little more. As the tree representing our spiritual life grows, as the branches spread and the roots grow deeper, naturally we must do more to care for this life. Giving is like adding water and fertilizer, and the results bless us and reflect our love of God.
Written by Shawn and Amber Ryan