St Timothy’s Church 2-20-11:
It’s the 8am service at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, North Carolina. The 10::15 service will have a larger congregation but those who have risen early are glad to be here with friends because they feel part of a family. Pastor Mimi Lacy speaks to each of them as she begins.
“It says in the scripture an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth but I say unto you do not resist the evil doer. If someone strikes you on the right cheek turn the other also and if anyone sues you to take your coat give your cloak as well. If anyone causes you to go one mile go also a second mile. You have also heard it said that you should love your neighbor and hate your enemies. But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Your Father in Heaven makes the sun shine on the evil as well as the good and sends rain to the righteous as well as the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”
She is preaching a gospel of love. A gospel about caring for others you may not even be aware of. Who are some of the people receiving this message this morning and how do they feel about this loving church?
Tom Harwell: My wife and I have been coming to this church since 1990. We were going to St Paul’s and when Bob Hobgood was called to be the minister here my wife went to school with him basically from the 2nd grade on back in her hometown in Jacksonville, Florida. We moved our membership to over here to be with him and his wife Nancy. After three months it was obvious that we needed more people. Of course I was involved in this church when the land was bought many many years ago. I did a research on how much it was per acre when the church was moved. I saw the church being moved down the road and there are some pictures of it and there is a historical sketch that shows that whole scene on how it came up the road in three parts. The church was built in Ayden back in about 1898 and the population had gone to zero with only one family left that went to church there. Doctor Dickson had shifted his membership along with his wife’s to St Paul’s in downtown Greenville.
At that time the church had money in the bank and literally a whole building. St Paul’s gave the money it had in the bank plus the building to St Timothy’s. St Timothy’s was formed when I was on the vestry at St Paul’s Church and there was no animosity and there was no split it was just decided by the vestry that we needed to have another church. in Greenville. So we had a dedication service one Sunday and the people who wanted to move went down to the altar and signed their names. My wife and I didn’t want to work that hard so we stayed at St Paul’s. That is a little of the history here. There are still people here who were involved with this church since its origination.
It first started meeting in the 7thDayAdventistChurch and did that for two years. After that it moved here and that is the whole story as I know it. That little white church is a wood church built basically of heart pine. This means that the center of the pine where there is lots of resin was used and therefore the wood doesn’t rot as fast as it might otherwise. There are stained glass windows in that church that go back to when it was in Ayden. Ayden is a town about ten miles away over by Kinston. It was an Episcopal Church there and there was an Episcopal Church in Winterville which is still there. Winterville is between Ayden and Greenville and there was an Episcopal Church in Grifton and one just out of Grifton called St. John’s. so in that area there are still two active churches, one that is now a museum and the one in Ayden that was moved here.
This is the parish of St. Mark’s as originally established in the mid 1700’s. This church was not named St. Mark’s for the original parish but was named for St. Timothy who was a close acquaintance of St. Paul’s. The tradition of St. Paul’s and St. Timothy’s in Greenville is due to this close association. At one time Paul got mad at St. Timothy at one time and he would not let him go with him Of course they reconciled later and they went to Rome which was a fatal mistake because both of them were executed according to tradition by Nero.
The organ at St. Paul’s is the fourth organ in that building. They redid the acoustics and I was on the organ committee when the balcony was put into what is now the chapel. We selected the organ and the design of where it would be and the balcony which at the time did not exist. At the time my wife and I had moved here from Gulfport, Mississippi in 1969. I was on both the vestry and organ committees and the organ was put in the small church and then the big church where the big organ was put in. The seats there could move and actually turn around and face the organ and it was designed for its effect on music while St. Timothy’s is designed for the spoken word. Here the spoken word can be heard all over and music doesn’t reverberate as well as it does at St. Paul’s. I was also on the building committee at this church when it was built.
This church has a reputation for being friendly. People sort of like it here. I’m a Baptist boy by birth but my wife is over there and she persuaded me. I wasn’t sure I was going to kneel at my wedding but I did.
Marty Michaels: My husband and I have been coming here since it started in 1978. The minister then was John Pryce and with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church we were a mission. They were kind enough to enlarge their church and gave the money to start a new mission church. They were wonderful. They paid for his salary and were the starting foundation and of course we had to build the congregation over time to be independent and it’s wonderful that we are all in the same community now. One of the things I like is that I can be what I am. I am growing and learning in my faith and encouragement always come from different places and there is a lot of involvement in the community.
There is the soup kitchen and various opportunities to volunteer to be a part of things. It enables you as an individual to help at the shelter and things like that. Of course they do a lot of community things together. We have the garden which is a wonderful thing that they’ve done providing the extra fresh vegetables to the community food outreach programs. There are a lot of volunteer activities for the people here. It’s really warm and friendly and I guess being somewhat smaller helps you. We always welcome new people though. One of the things is the name tags that help people get to know each other .because you see each other and you don’t always know the names.
Dr Robert Shelton: I like this church a lot. That’s why I’m here. My wife and I have been members for about 7 ½ years. We are from Eastern, North Carolina from a little town called Swansburg about three hours east of here. We were already Episcopalian and when we came here we just started attending and fell in love with the church and kept coming. I’m a psychologist and work at the hospital here in town. So what do I think about religion in general and this church in particular? I was a religion major at Chapel Hill when I started out. I think religion is a basic experience in life. Here I get acceptance, love, meaningful work, help along the way in life. Here at this church you have birth, love, marriage and death. You have every experience in life. It is a major influence on my life. As part of my mission as a psychologist I feel God has given me gifts to help me to do what I do.
I grew up in a family that went to a Southern Baptist Church and it was sort of like, “Just follow the rules!” I did study religion in college and for several years after I was atheist/agnostic. When I did return to religion I found that it did help to explain to me what was going on. This morning when we had the communion at the eight O’clock service I found myself acknowledging that while I didn’t know what was going on it affected me anyway. I began to realize that religion was important to me when I was in my twenties. My wife has always been religious so I began to go to church in support of her and she was/is Episcopalian. I didn’t have a big flash but my interest kept increasing. It became a good place to be and this feeling has grown over time. Why do I matter? Why do you matter? What is reality? We all matter because we matter to God!
A PERSONAL NOTE: The other night I was watching a program and they were showing scenes from the EST training, which I took in 1975, with a room full of people screaming. It was out of context but I clearly remembered the process. Again we were all lying on the floor with our heads on our pillows. Our trainer had us all close our eyes and told us to imagine that we were afraid of the person to our right. I did and started to feel a little apprehensive. Then we were old to imagine that we were afraid of the person on our left as well. I could here people start to get nervous and whimper. Finally he told us to imagine we were afraid of every other person in the room. By now some people were screaming. Then he said what put the whole thing in perspective, “You do realize that there are 249 people in this room afraid of you!” So what do we have at St. Timothy’s? People who talk to each other and care about each other. This feeling of being a community brought about partially by an innovative pastor who cares about her parishioners and cares about the world around them. The nametags they put on when they enter the church means being able to address each other by name and once that barrier is broken to go out into the community and not be afraid to help others. The world is a village made up of people and some of them are afraid of you until you stick out your hand and say, “Hello!”