Back in June, my family and I moved from Long Island to Atlanta, Georgia. My wife Valeda and I were recruited for positions at Emory University. We felt grateful that God had provided exciting new career opportunities for us and closer proximity to Valeda’s family of origin. There was just one problem: I didn’t want to leave Marble.
As soon as we got down here, I began a thoughtful process of soliciting recommendations for churches in the Atlanta area. Nichole, one of my colleagues at the Candler School of Theology at Emory, offered to help, but she wanted me to list for her the criteria I was looking for in a church home. This is the actual list of criteria I sent her, copied from my e-mail message:
*diverse congregation (my wife Valeda is black, and my daughter and I are white)–it would be nice to join a congregation that looks more like my family
*progressive–full support of LGBTQ+ people, full voting rights, politically active with attention paid to social justice issues, less emphasis on fine theological points
*strong children’s Sunday School program
*strong music program, including children’s choir
*integration of psychological insights into sermons and programming
*Stephen Ministry (lay counseling ministry)
*nondenominational Protestant is fine; we like UCC, Reformed, Presbyterian, Baptist, Methodist
After completing my list, I read it over. I thought, “That’s weird; this church sounds so familiar.” And then I realized that I was describing everything I love about Marble.
Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). While it is certainly true that any church with Jesus at its center would be able to nurture my family and me, Marble is a special place where I felt God’s presence in its people, Sunday after Sunday. I have now attended 13 churches in the Atlanta area, and none compares with Marble. Marble is a gift from God. I feel grateful to have been a member of Marble and served in some of its many ministries.
I trust that God will lead me to a church here in Atlanta that we will call home, but until that happens, I feel blessed to show my gratitude to Marble by increasing my giving over last year. I have received from Marble far more than I could ever give back. Volunteering for service and giving money are only two ways of giving back. You can show your gratitude to God and to Marble in countless ways. Where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, God’s presence is always there. I feel God’s presence when I give back to my Marble siblings.
Shared by Geoff Goodman