Bob and I arrived in Takoma Park on September 1, 1975 with three school-aged children already a week late in starting school. We had returned to the U.S. after having served as missionaries in Tanzania and Lebanon. Bob had a job as a copy editor at the Review & Herald, but there was little else that was certain in our lives. We didn’t have a place to live; we didn’t know where our children would go to school; we didn’t have our furniture or belongings, as we were still waiting for their arrival from Beirut. We also didn’t have a church family. Takoma Academy and Sligo School became our children’s schools. And while we attended Sligo Church, Bob thought we needed to find a smaller church where it would be easier to get acquainted and be more nurturing. However, our children thought differently. Their friends from Sligo School and T.A. were at Sligo Church and that’s where they wanted to be.
While our children found community at Sligo Church as a result of their school communities, Bob and I found it more difficult in a very large church. At that time we didn’t have the church addition with the Atrium and S.S. rooms, so our children were scattered from the Servicemen’s Center behind T.A. to the Science Building on the college campus for their Sabbath School classes. By the time we all found each other for church, many times all the seats would be taken. We didn’t have small Sabbath School classes as the Sabbath School lesson was taught from the platform. We found it difficult to get acquainted and when I asked about joining a small group I was told I should start my own.
Forty-two years later Sligo has recognized that living as a nurturing community cannot be taken for granted. It must be intentional. Our Sabbath School lessons this quarter have been written to help us be more aware of what a community in Christ should be like.
Our everyday lives are so busy with jobs, families and our own pursuits, but when we’re in a crisis we especially need our church community. When we reach out in an immediate crisis, the church is more likely to be there at the moment of crisis than it is in extending Christian nurture over a period of time.
And so it was that a few of us who have experienced the loss of a spouse felt the need to reach out to others at Sligo Church who have had had a similar experience. That was how Heartlifters began, just a few months ago. We found that there were over 60 members listed in the Sligo database who had lost a spouse. So that’s where we started. We invited them to a potluck, shared stories together and asked for input. Heartlifters is a ministry that provides for people to get together, visit, learn new things and share experiences in overcoming the challenges of life. Many of our Heartlifters are unable to attend events, but they’re remembered on their birthdays and other occasions. Prayer partners also call each other to encourage and pray together. For those close enough to attend, we’re planning workshops on topics such as Handling Our Finances, Healthy Living and Using Our Mobile Devices, that will be scheduled during the year. Even our young adults are involved with helping our Heartlifters in their homes. We’ve found that many of us were so used to coming to church with our spouse that it was too lonely coming to church and sitting alone. Soon we’ll be wearing a pin and we hope that when you see our pin, you may want to reach out and perhaps invite us to sit with you.
So this is who we are: A Sligo community for those who have lost a spouse.
Our vision is: To bring joy beyond loss through a sympathetic ministry of compassion.
Our Prayer is:
Give us a heart sympathetic and tender;
Jesus, like Thine.
Touched by the needs that are surging around us,
And filled with compassion divine.
Perhaps you’d like to participate in this ministry of love or some other ministry at Sligo. If so, please call the church office or speak to a pastor.