Written by Maddy Thomas
I live in Columbus, Ohio, and when I am home, there are two main churches I go to. I go to what is considered a white church, named Columbus Eastwood Seventh-day Adventist Church, and a Black church, named Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist Church. The two churches have very different worship styles yet still closely follow the teachings of the Bible and Ellen White. I have gone to both churches my entire life. As a baby, I was dedicated at Ephesus, and as a child I went to Eastwood’s church school, Eastwood Jr. Academy. I have been close and involved with both churches. It was important to me that no matter which church I decided to go to that Sabbath I was always welcomed with open arms.
I love that feeling you get when it is Sabbath and you get to worship with your home church. I consider Eastwood to be my main home church. There, everyone knows my name, my brothers’ names, what year I am in school and so much more. It really feels like another home. I love the people, the programs and the place. All of my memories are there. I enjoy that feeling of coming home to my church family. At Ephesus, it feels a little different.
When Ephesus was open and I would go home, I always got welcomed with, “How you doing baby?” “You look so grown!” “Let me pinch those cheeks!” “I remember when you were this big, and I could fit you in my pocket!”
No matter how old I get, my Ephesus family will never let me forget that I am still a child. Whenever I go to Ephesus, it feels like a reunion, seeing all my cousins, aunts and uncles again. I love both churches so much.
What I want to focus on is the role each church had in my spiritual journey. When I was nine years old, I was baptized at Eastwood; at 10, I joined their Pathfinder group and was a part of it until age 16. I went to Eastwood SDA Junior Academy from kindergarten to eighth grade. A family friend from Ephesus sponsored me to attend the conference’s summer camp, Camp Adena, from ages 11 to 18. I sang in Ephesus’s youth choir in high school, attended their Adventist Youth programs on Sabbath evenings and joined the church’s basketball team for about six years. I really enjoyed all my time with both churches. No matter the activity, it always began with a word of prayer or a short devotional. Being so involved in these churches with my family and friends helped me to realize how great of a life God has given me.
God has been extremely active in my life, and sometimes I didn’t even know it. God has allowed me to have not one, but two wonderful church families that sponsor and pray for me all the time. He has allowed me to be a part of two worlds and to be loved by both of them.
Growing up in the Adventist church is something that I am proud of. Every pastor, teacher, pathfinder instructor, coach, grandparent and church family member I had growing up really helped me see how life can be great. I gained prayer strength from my grandmothers, basic knowledge from my teachers, Biblical foundations from my pastors, life skills from my Pathfinder instructors and endurance from my coaches. I am so happy to be a part of a denomination like the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The two congregations I belong to have laid the groundwork in my spiritual journey, and the people have been building me up since my baby dedication.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)