This story was written by Marti Fagley, senior warden of St. Christopher Episcopal Church, now worshiping at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, 5709 Wedgwood, Fort Worth, TX 76133. (See map below.) They were forced to move out of their historic building when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear an appeal of the Texas Supreme Court order giving Episcopal Church property to people who left The Episcopal Church in 2008.
On April 19, our parish moved out of the building that our congregation had so lovingly updated and maintained for decades. There were many tears. There was much laughter. There was a lot of fellowship as we grieved the loss of our building.
We’ve also found welcome. Radical welcome.
The congregation of St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church took in this group of weary travelers. We contacted their pastor, Lesley Radius, to see if they had space for us. She told us that just a few days earlier their bishop had instructed them to provide whatever hospitality any of our displaced congregations might need. An answer to prayer indeed.
For now, many items have gone into storage. Other items have been returned to donors. We began our services in the sanctuary of St. Matthew’s in late April. We’ve welcomed members of St. Andrew’s and Christ the King/St. Elisabeth.
Thankfully, the break-away group allowed our preschool to complete the school year. Our teachers have truly been heroes during this COVID-19 crisis. The preschool reopened this past school year with a limited enrollment of 18 children, whose parents worked in the medical field or as first responders. We’ve been unable to find a space to continue the preschool, so we’ve suspended operations of our 61-year-old preschool for now. Keep our staff of five – who have more 75 years of experience among them –in your prayers as they look for new jobs.
We remain determined to restart the school when we find or build our new location.
May has been a month of finding our new normal again. We aren’t quite there yet, but we are very close. We recently received our certificate of occupancy for our administrative office in Fort Worth.
At St. Matthew’s, our altar guild is working closely with our host worship group to share duties and space. Our acolytes and readers are finding their way around new worship spaces and COVID practices. Our choir is beginning to sing again with old and new voices. Our tech guild is working with our host’s technology group finding ways to use each other’s equipment and set-ups to continue to live-stream our services on Zoom and Facebook.
In July, our Laundry Love ministry will resume having in-person monthly events at a local laundromat on the third Saturday of the month. We’ll be providing free laundry service, food, and children’s activities to more than 90 clients just as we did before the quarantine.
We are adjusting to our new worship time at 1:00 p.m. In July, we begin alternate 8:00 a.m. services with St. Matthew’s. We are blessed to be welcomed at the St. Matthew’s 10:00 a.m. service. We are navigating unknown waters, but they are healing waters. We will soon begin discerning our future. We want to find our own place in God’s plan for us. We will take time to dream, listen and follow the Holy Spirit wherever we are called.
St. Christopher is the patron saint of travelers. We are traveling on the road and welcoming the safety and love we have been provided.
Thanks be to God!