Why Saint Andrews
My husband, Greg, and I spent the first few years of our marriage just trying to keep our heads above water (new jobs, new house, new baby …) We knew that we eventually wanted to find a church that we felt comfortable in, and we had been to several around town together but hadn’t found our church home. Our neighbors Dick and Janet Packard recommended Saint Andrew’s. Then more neighbors — Sandy Barney, Anne-Marie Turnage and their son Aidan (Finn was on the way) — showed me a craft they were working on for the younger kids in Saint Andrew’s Sunday school the next day. Because Greg and I were looking for a church where children were welcome — and encouraged to be seen and be heard — I decided that we should take Sandy and Anne-Marie up on their invitation to try Saint Andrew’s.
Of course, we’re so glad we did. At Saint Andrews, everyone is friendly and accepting and they let us get to know the church in our own time.We’ve always gotten the sense that the people of St. Andrew’s are there because they want to be, because they want to connect to God and each other, and not out of any sense of moral obligation. We feel so lucky to be a part of the Saint Andrew’s community.
On February 10, 2003, I drove through a sweet and silent snowstorm to hear Glenn Mitchell preach a sermon at Saint Andrew’s. I had never heard of Saint Andrew’s and had no idea what “Episcopal” meant. When I walked into Saint Andrew’s I was stricken, as if everything in me went silent—my body, my breath, my thoughts — except for the rush of blood through my veins. I couldn’t have been more deeply moved if I had just walked into the cathedral at Canterbury. As I passed from the narthex into the sanctuary, the energy was palpable, as if I were passing through a membrane. The choir procession left me breathless and I recall thinking, “Now that’s celebration!” Tears flowed from my eyes through the entire service, and I crossed myself more times during that one service than I had the entire 18 years since I had stopped attending Catholic Mass. I hadn’t been looking for a church; I didn’t feel a spiritual lack in my life. Still, I found a home, a home that I didn’t know I needed, and it felt like the home found me. Attending Saint. Andrews, I continue to feel like God is calling me to his banquet.
I moved to State College seven years ago with two teenagers and a newborn. It was hard to leave the community where we’d raised our older children and I wondered how I’d find a network of friends to share and help one another in the everyday joys and concerns of life. Fortunately, there was a group at Saint Andrew’s that was meeting once a week to discuss how we could simplify our lives and live more intentionally. We were women of all ages and our friendship made my transition to State College easy and joyful. My daughter was hired as the nursery coordinator and she cherishes her memories of the children she helped care for. Now that she’s left the area, she loves coming back and seeing how they are growing.
I continue to appreciate the variety of people we have in our parish, a wonderful mix of old and young, people of diverse backgrounds and interests. The preaching and liturgy refresh me every Sunday. In addition,various programs such as Daughters of the King, Lenten study groups and Advent and Lent rosary recitations offer me other opportunities to continue my spiritual journey.
Tom and I came to Saint Andrew’s because it was the one Episcopal church in State College; I am a cradle Episcopalian and Tom was confirmed after we were married. Had there been no Episcopal church here, we would have gone to a neighboring community. Because we celebrate the Anglican tenets of scripture, reason, and tradition, because we so appreciate the liturgy and ritual of the Episcopal faith, because we revel in its inclusiveness, we find a home here at Saint Andrew’s. As a priest once said to us, “The Episcopal Church allows one to think!”
We had gotten to that point in life where my wife, Ann, and I felt we should downsize and move to a condo.After that initial decision was made, the second question was,“Where would we move?” After considerable study we took a grand tour from central Pennsylvania to Florida looking for a new home. We decided the grass was not greener in some other state: We had everything we wanted in State College.
The next big question dealt with the church. We had always been active in the Episcopal church and it was important that we attend one where we could continue to be so.
These are among the questions we needed answers to:
Would we be accepted and welcomed?
Could we participate ina meaningful way?
Were there enough “smells and bells” to make us comfortable?
Were the sermons Gospel based, relevant and challenging?
Was the music program top notch? How about the organ? (I happen to love organ music)
Would the quality of the Sunday school program attract young families with children?
Were there programs for all age groups and a wide range of interests?
Did the parish truly subscribe to “mission”?
Did the church and its people value diversity?
Was this church alive, growing and vibrant?
The resounding answer to all these concerns was “yes!” We had found two homes: our residence and our church.With both we are very happy.