Weekly Reflection - 11/17/2022
St. Mary's Reflection: Russell Fudge, Vestry Member
A Life in Faith Community
When someone asks me why I love St. Mary's, memories of life in a faith community come to mind. In this Reflection I am going to try to explain how my past leads to my hopes for the St. Mary's of the future.
My brother Don moved back into the community where we grew up several years ago. He recently told me that he was at Don Goode’s 100th birthday celebration. Pat and Don Goode, like many of the families we knew growing up, were parishioners at Christ Episcopal Church in Manlius, New York (see photo above). The Fudges and the Goodes spent many “Sundays after Church” together. At the gathering he also spoke with Mark Fogg who was just enough older than Don and I were that he served as our role model of crucifer. This conversation let loose a flood of memories of the other families and experiences related to our Christ Church life in those times. I remembered joking in the children’s choir at inappropriate times, wonderful desserts at the potluck suppers, the year Karl Lowenberg and I had the job of cleaning the parish hall, a year of church-league basketball, and our then rector Reverend Rugby Auer hanging around outside Manlius High School when classes were dismissed. He chased us down the street, if necessary, to collect us for the after school youth group sessions.
I came to St. Mary’s with my son Gerard and daughter Rachel in 1977 hoping to find new people and new memories, and to insure that my children had the opportunity to experience what church has to offer them as they learned about life.
Almost immediately Father Bill Barcus recruited me to teach Rachel’s Sunday School class. Father Richard Fowler enlisted me as a chalice bearer within a few years and then, even later on, asked me to become a candidate for vestry. The privilege of vestry service brings many wonderful memories and lasting friendships. I am a structural engineer by profession and was honored to serve with Mike Lusse, among others, on the building committee during the parish hall reconstruction. Rod Dugliss asked me to become a Lay Eucharistic Visitor at just the time when family experiences were preparing me to take on that ministry. As a LEV I was fortunate to become part of a loyal team of caring individuals and to get to know and love the wonderful folk we served and who gave us back so much in return. Perhaps the highlight of people, memories, and faith came to me in my service on a new rector search committee. Memories of the time our search committee spent together can bring tears to my eyes.
And yes, in the quietness of St. Mary's, is one of the places that I feel closest to my son Gerard.
All of which leads me to this: I want St. Mary’s to be there in the future for others who are seeking the lifetime spiritual enrichment that I found; first at Christ Church Manlius then at St. Mary's. And not to be there only for those who come actively looking. I believe that there are many people in our neighborhood, our city, some of whom grew up with a church background and some who don’t even yet know that they are lacking a spiritual connection in their life that are looking for a community like St. Mary's. We need to find them and bring them in to our community. We want them to establish a relationship with caring people like themselves and like ourselves who, in striving to do the right thing, can create their own memories of working with others in a faith community.
This is why it is so important for us to serve, our time, talent, and treasure, to insure that St. Mary's remains a strong attraction to our community.