It’s fair to say that we are wandering South Mainers. In this chapter of our lives, we can best be described as church watchers. We are mostly able to be a part of South Main from a distance.
I first moved to Houston in 1998, and after a few months, I joined South Main. I loved the friendly people and the beautiful, inspiring worship services. I got engaged, married, and moved to Seattle in the first 18 months of my membership, but my time as a South Mainer was just getting started. While we were away, we attended a lovely church, but it wasn’t South Main. My husband and I returned to Houston three years later with a newborn in tow. In another 18 months we added a second daughter and our South Main family was complete.
We slipped into our comfortable roles at church as musicians – because that’s what we do. Steve played the piano often in worship and I began to work with the children’s choirs and bells. We found a circle of friendship, fellowship, and discipleship in the young marrieds Sunday School class and navigated the sometimes dicey waters of parenting young children. For about six years you could find me in the fellowship hall most Wednesday night’s feeding my girls and rejoicing over one less weeknight dinner to cook. We were regulars. Until 2009, we found a home and a safe harbor in our church. We relished the sense of belonging and tangible help we got from our church friends. During those years, several times a week you could find me somewhere on the South Main campus – planning for choirs, picking up or dropping off the girls, or in worship or bible study.
Now let’s talk about worship, because nobody does it like South Main.
I love the traditional feel of South Main. I love the swells of the organ and the dressed up feel of South Main. I am never more at home in my heart than when I slip into a seat on a Sunday morning at SMBC. From the prelude to the postlude, I love how the pieces of worship fit together and sharpen each other with such great intention. I think you have to leave South Main to truly appreciate the form, flow, and structure of a typical worship service. I carry the service with me through the week, in strains of music that wash over me or a verse or prayer that challenges me. The sanctuary itself has a look and feel all it’s own with it’s creamy pink walls and gorgeous ornate moldings. Sitting in the congregation, everyplace the eye falls is instantly soothing, always reassuring, and shimmering with beautiful color from the stained glass. The music on a typical Sunday is nothing short of glorious and the musicians who drive each note you hear are as superbly skilled as they are dedicated to delivering meaningful worship. Every lyric, every modulation, every dynamic perfectly balanced with the mood and themes of the service. I also think you have to leave South Main to really get the level of musical excellence in worship just present in a congregational hymn.
In 2009 a good job and an opportunity for adventure took us pretty far away from our comfortable seats in the sanctuary to Qatar, and we are still in the midst of our expat journey. Time and circumstance have effectively removed our status as regulars at South Main. We listen to worship online and keep up with church news through friends and social media, but of course, it’s not the same as being there. We make every effort to walk through the doors whenever we have the chance. Our cradle roll daughters were both baptized in turn at South Main during the past two years. We know we are a bit on the fringe, dropping in as often as we are able. Our neighbors and closest friends still feel like family to us and we are so grateful to feel ourselves a part of that wider community. We have been blessed to visit amazing places all over the world during our time abroad, but we’ll go to great lengths as a family to be able to be present at South Main. We are thankful for every opportunity.
As I thought about our story at South Main and the capital campaign we are embarking on, I considered what South Main really means to me. I think of South Main as an anchor, grounding me to a place filled with people I love who love and care for our family. An anchor providing weight to the constant journey I am on to follow Christ and live as He would have me live. Through relationships with our church family, we’ve been anchored into our little family and a community that not only encourages us by example, but helps us with prayers and outstretched hands. South Main actively holds us up, walks alongside us, and steadies our path. We are active in a local church in Qatar, and we are very blessed to be able to worship in a contemporary setting with focused believers who respectfully live out their faith in a Muslim society. It’s a gift. But I believe our ability to serve and be in fellowship with others from varied backgrounds in Qatar is firmly anchored in our South Main ties.
And so, today we do life in a very far away place ten months out of the year. Even so, it is as easy as breathing to turn our hearts and minds to 4100 South Main Street in Houston, Texas. I can’t think of a better stewardship of our resources than to invest in strengthening South Main for the future. It is nothing short of a cherished home to us, and we are firmly anchored in the South Main mission. After sixteen years, half spent actively attending South Main, and half spent away – we still feel ourselves a part of the South Main family. We think of you, pray for you, and reap the rich blessings of worship and fellowship with you – even from a distance.