Tonya’s Story

 

Michael PhillipsI grew up in New York City going to a Baptist church with my mother. Then I turned 13, and my own personal faith journey began. I recall gingerly approaching Mom to tell her that I did not feel at home in her church. I was one of six children, and I was the only one choosing not to be baptized in my mother’s church, the only one who felt the need to seek a new church home. My mother, God bless her, supported my decision, encouraging me to find my own spiritual path.

At first, I attended Mass at a Roman Catholic church. When I left for college, I attended chapel services at Howard University. I returned to the Baptist Church, but that still wasn’t home.

Before my mother closed her eyes for the last time, she said, “You are my only child who has not been baptized. But I am sure when you are ready, it will happen, and you will find your church home.” I was 34 at the time.

Two years later, I was living in Georgia. I started going to a Methodist church. It was shortly after the birth of my younger daughter, Maya. One Sunday, with Maya on my lap and my older daughter Nia by my side, the choir started to sing the Isaiah Jones Jr. hymn, “Fill My Cup,” my mother’s favorite spiritual. I truly felt like she was singing to me. I decided the time had come for me to be baptized.

But the Methodist church was not to be my final home. Another move brought me and my daughters to Cincinnati, and I began visiting various churches. Friends recommended Christ Church Cathedral. Within a few visits, Nia and Maya were begging me to return every Sunday. They loved The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, and I loved how this Montessori-based program for children introduced God to them.

The girls made close friends quickly at the cathedral with other girls their age. And I made close friends. Before long, I knew I finally found my church home.

 

 
Maya’s Story

 

Michael PhillipsThese are my earliest memories of Christ Church Cathedral: Looking forward every Sunday to seeing my friend, Ellie, at church. I loved how she and I could explore all the stations within the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd classes.

I grew up at the cathedral. I found friendships that have carried me through the years. Now I am a junior in high school, getting ready to spread my wings further. The cathedral has helped prepare me for my next steps in life.

I have had so many opportunities that I would never have had the chance to experience were it not for the cathedral. And Ellie was right there with me all the way. We went to Procter Camp together. We went to the El Hogar mission in Honduras together. When we learned that the cathedral would not be organizing another trip to El Hogar last summer, Ellie and I wrote a letter to St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, which was planning such a mission trip, and asked to join them. Off we went again to Honduras.

But mostly, however, what I love about having grown up at the cathedral is that it allowed me to find God when I was ready.

I attend Summit Country Day School, a Roman Catholic school, so I am familiar with Roman Catholic teachings. Catholic rituals are similar to those of the Episcopal Church, but I love that all are welcome to receive Holy Communion at my church. I love to see members from different cultures, backgrounds, and some who are less fortunate, all come together to share in the Lord’s Supper at the cathedral.

Next year after completing my senior year, I will be leaving for college. When I do leave Cincinnati, I will always carry with me the gifts of the cathedral, how it has helped me to develop and to understand the gifts that God has bestowed upon me.

 

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