I was baptized in the United Methodist Church of Simi Valley in 1968 by my uncle, who was the pastor there at the time. While I was growing up, and despite religion being a strong influence in my family, I have to admit I didn’t feel a strong connection with the import of this sacrament. When I was a young adult, I lived my life for me, thinking that, by building my skill and strength, I could be more ‘independent’. In a sense, an unhappy sense, this strategy was successful: I was surrounded by people, but my illusion of independence was, in reality, solitude.
When I joined the Napa Methodist Church, our church family took me in immediately, warmly and without reservation. This was the first outward sign of God’s grace that I truly noticed and which I now feel in my heart and soul. Now, each time I take communion, the unconditional love of our church family and the unmerited grace of God strike me poignantly, and I am deeply grateful.