My relationship & communication with God growing up was impersonal and easily compared to the way you would talk to someone you’re trying to impress for a promotion. You say what you think they want to hear. As a kid and teenager I went to church because I was told to, and I stuck to the classic prayer before bed “Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the lord my soul to keep…” Once I left home I stopped attending church, feeling I didn’t need to go to church to talk to or believe in God. I continued to pray before I went to bed, but I placed myself in the spiritual but not religious category.
It wasn’t until I moved from Florida to Pennsylvania, leaving my family and friends behind, that I realized how easily disconnected someone can feel. One day I stopped into The Church of the Holy Trinity (CHT), and I received a warm welcome from the rector followed by an invitation to join him and a group for lunch after service. To put it into words, that experience felt like I had always attended CHT; it felt like I was just catching up after having been on vacation rather than starting from scratch. That’s a rare feeling.
I have now been at CHT for almost 8 years. In that time I’ve joined the healing prayer team where I could be with others in private prayer who sought it, I’ve joined the young adults group which helped me understand how to date while continuing to be a devout Christian (not an uncommon dilemma), and I became involved with CHT’s outreach program which has reminded me that praying is wonderful but directly uplifting a fellow brother or sister in Christ is life-changing. And it was life-changing for me! I started my journey to becoming an ordained Deacon while at CHT. During this process three major experiences have brought me closer to God and the larger community; (1) I served as a chaplain for two major hospitals in Philadelphia. I have sat with people at their most vulnerable (staff, family, and Patients). I prayed for the deceased, I prayed for the sick, I prayed for those just having a crappy day. (2) I started a Veterans Ministry. CHT has been a huge support to veterans who need to know that people in their community are there for them not just once or twice a year but all year round! (3) I read the examination for a Deacon. That’s when I realized that God intended for me to walk a path of service to His marginalized and needy children and that he intended for me to lead others in doing the same. It was a moment that wouldn’t have happened if I had not followed my gut and walked through the doors of CHT!
– Toneh Williams