Portia Foden

As a child, I longed for a large, robust family. I recall visiting friends, somewhat overcome by the sights, sounds, and aromas that met me at their front door.

As soon as my friend would usher me into the confines of her room, an older sibling would burst in demanding her to return “borrowed” clothes. Echoing through the halls were surely teenagers protesting the limitations set by concerned parents.

Dinner time was raucous and lively as everyone, seemingly at once, would reach for food, talk over one another and recall the day’s antics; it was beautifully chaotic.

I, on the other hand, am an only child, or as I called myself when I was very young, a “lonely” child. I am also a product of only children. As a result, we lived isolated lives.

There were no aunts, uncles or cousins, nor were there grandparents aside from those on my mother’s side, so life was quiet, organized and orderly – almost painfully so.

As a result, I spent much of my life searching for connection and a sense of belonging, and I suspect I am not alone in this pursuit.

Yet for me, I have come to know and be a part of a community of people who, like me, have discovered that a life connected to God and one another is where we find meaning in life. Although we are not related by blood, marriage, or even commonalities, we are all connected and committed to living as one.

We work in unison with varying gifts and talents to create change in our church and the community.

One small way we do this is through community-focused outreach efforts like Vacation Bible School. Every summer more than 70 passionate volunteers come together to build, sew, cook, serve, teach and lead children as they experience the stories of our faith. We recognize that, as enjoyable and meaningful as this week is for children, it further illustrates what amazing feats we can conquer when we work together in joy-filled unison.

But staying connected takes intention, therefore, each week we come together not just to worship but also to learn through Bible study, serve by sewing Cancer Caps, host by opening our doors to the Lowcountry Youth Wind Symphony, support that we offer to our local Scouts and, most importantly, fellowship with community dinners on Saturday evenings and monthly potlucks.

If you are searching for connection and a sense of belonging, might I encourage you to seek out a Christ-centered community where you might find acceptance, purpose, and meaning for yourself and for others? For me, it has been such a blessing to be adopted into a robust, passionate, and beautifully chaotic family of faith.

Portia Foden, a candidate for licensed and ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church, serves on the staff team at Church of the Palms in Okatie.