This last Sunday I attended worship at Christ Church Frederica, Episcopal, for the first time. Christ Church’s property adjoins Fort Frederica National Monument, so its location is very convenient. It has an 8 a.m. service which means that I can attend worship and still get to work on time. I could have been attending this service for the last two months, but was reluctant to attend a new church at a new denomination in my historic clothing. The mental barriers we put in place to attending worship are many and varied.
I decided to attend worship at Christ Church for one reason and one reason only – George. George Edwards is a local volunteer at Fort Frederica. I work with him on Tuesdays and I always enjoy talking to him. George is about as Georgian as a person can get. He grew up in rural Georgia, lived and had a business in Atlanta for 30 years and moved to St. Simons for retirement. He even graduated from the Georgia Tech and will proudly tell you that he is a “ramblin’ wreck from Georgia Tech.” I’m not sure what that means, exactly, but it sounds fun.
George and his wife are active members at Christ Church Frederica. I asked him last month if Christ Church had any evening worship services or Bible Studies during Lent. The next Sunday, after worship, George stopped by Fort Frederica to bring me the church’s special events bulletin for Lent. He also invited me to worship. Although he and his wife attend the 9:15 service, he offered to attend the 8 a.m. service with me if it would make me feel more comfortable. The following Tuesday he repeated his invitation, and then the next Sunday he stopped by again to see if I had gone. Because of his invitations and his follow-up, he overcame all my barriers to attending worship.
So, last Sunday I attended the 8 a.m. worship service at Christ Church for the first time. The 8 a.m. service follows the 1928 Book of Common Prayer and I was a little concerned about being able to follow the service. Fortunately, everything I needed to know was printed in the bulletin. Clear instructions for standing, sitting, and kneeling were voiced by the worship leaders. Although some of the language was unfamiliar, I didn’t have any problem following or participating in the service.
The homily was given by the Associate Rector, Rev. Ashton Williston. She talked about being daytime vs nighttime Christians. Daytime is the person we present in public, and nighttime is the doubts and questions we have about faith and life that we keep to ourselves.
I did not participate in communion because I wasn’t sure what the Episcopalian stance on communion was. Since Sunday I read on the Christ Church website that communion is open to any baptized Christian.
The only strange thing about the service was that we didn’t have any music. I’m not sure why – the church has music at its other services. I will have to ask George about it the next time I see him.
Christ Church Frederica has a long and colorful history on St. Simons Island. It is probably the top tourist site on the island, thanks to Eugenia Price and her book, “Beloved Invader.” Christ Church gets more visitors per year than Fort Frederica National Monument. The cemetery is especially interesting with many of the most famous St. Simons residents buried there. They are very active in the community and in raising money for missions, especially among women and children.
I will be attending worship at Christ Church Frederica again. I felt very comfortable, even wearing my historical clothing. When I shook Father Tom’s hand at the end of the service, he noted that I was wearing my vestments too. The other congregants were welcoming and friendly. And, as we all know, it is much easier to attend a church for the second time than the first time. Thanks, George, for being persistent in your invitation.