Old Friends

by Mary Johnson, Director of Children's Ministries & ATB&B

When I was talking to my sister Martha about the Kenny Rogers concert she attended recently, she said one of her favorite songs that he performed was "You Can't Make Old Friends." She and I both think that is a beautiful expression. And I began to reflect on the old friends in my life. Because I have lived in this community for over 28 years I am blessed to have many old friends that I cherish. Many of them are parishioners here at Holy Comforter. We became friends with the Haljuns when our girls started Junior Kindergarten together. Now we see each other here at Holy Comforter as very dear old friends. And Molly and Jenny talk almost daily even though they don't live in the same city now. Cary and I have been part of this faith community for about 10 years and I have been with the Preschool that is a ministry of CHC for 14 years. So many great friendships have been formed over the years. We are blessed.

When I tour families through All Things Bright and Beautiful, so many of them comment on all their old friends that are enrolled here with their children. They have known each other from grade school and high school and are so happy to be reconnecting now as parents. When I asked one dad recently about why he was so excited to return to this area to raise his children, he said it was because of the amazing experiences he had here with his youth group: his "church friends." That is why it is important to enroll his children in a faith-based preschool. When I asked why that was different from other school classmates, he said it was because they connected it a very meaningful way through all the activities: mission trips, volunteer outreach activities, lock-ins, Confirmation, and just being together on Sundays or whatever other day they chose to get together. I watch this with our youth now, both in the preschool and the Sunday School programs. And I think the distinguishing factor that makes this different from other activities is the faith component, just as the dad had referenced. "When two or more are gathered in His name"........ as the Bible verse goes. There is the effect of doing something with and for the whole. All Things Bright and Beautiful students brought in food for the Thanksgiving project, Junior High Students went to Church of Our Saviour to make soup and sandwiches at Food for Friends. CHC families will choose an ornament from the Jesse Tree and provide a much happier Christmas for many families in need.

There is a profound sense of community here with our youth that begins even with the littlest ones on Sunday in the Children's Chapel. They look forward to seeing each other from week to week to share the experience of the story, a project, and social time together. The foundations of "old friends" are beginning: day by day and week by week. I can't help but wonder how many will come together in the Great Hall many years from now for one event or another. They will reconnect after their life's journey has taken them elsewhere for college or work. And one day they may return to find their old friends here.