I have been blessed to have lived all my life in strong, Christian communities of faith. And God's all­ powerful, everlasting presence has always been the firm foundation for faith, service, and life itself. While I do not recall a specific instant in which God first became real to me, I have had many times when a sense of God's presence has been a source of great comfort and joy. For me, there is strength in the knowledge that the existence of this world and all that is in the world, including my life, is within God's plan. Like many people, I suspect, my experience with God has intensified during the peaks and valleys of life at times of joy or sorrow. One example occurred at a time when I felt very frightened and alone - both my parents were terminally ill with my brothers far away, my children were young and in need of my attention, I had just started a new job, and I felt overwhelmed by a multitude of worries. I recall leaving the hospital one day, feeling sad and stretched to the limit. At that moment, my oldest brother called to check on my parents. We talked, and I shared with him how I felt overwhelmed and almost broken with anxiety and sorrow. He listened and made a very simple observation that has stuck with me through the years - - that when we feel as though we'll break, God is there in the center of our lives and the middle of our troubles, to take on the burdens, fill in the cracks and make us whole again. I felt God's hand on me then, and the confirmation that God is always with us through Christ and the Holy Spirit is a constant source of strength.

I believe that Jesus Christ, God's son, came to earth to save us from sin and evil and to give us eternal life through trust in him. Jesus taught us how to live on earth and how to live eternally through his teaching, his life, and his death and resurrection. I believe that we should strive to live as Christ lived, for others, seeking to follow God's will for our lives. I am never as successful as I want to be in following Christ's example. but I am convinced that living for others, in God's will, means giving up self, including fear, which , to me, is freedom from sin and evil. It's hard for me to comprehend the love that prompted God to place his Son, Jesus, on earth to go through not only the temptations and trials that we experience, but also the worst of the world's sin and evil in the form of crucifixion and death. I believe that Jesus was and is divine and that his humanity, living and dying on earth was God's divine expression of love for us. Jesus' sacrificial death served as atonement for our sins, and his resurrection gives us victory over sin and evil. Jesus demonstrated how we are to live through his life and work.

The gospels provide so many examples of Jesus's teachings and actions, which can be summarized as showing us that the great commandments of God are about love - loving God with our whole hearts, and loving our neighbors as ourselves

Jesus promised that he would not leave us comfortless. I believe that the Holy Spirit is our comforter. Jesus was "God with us" while he was here on earth, and the Holy Spirit is "God with us" until we see God face-to-face in heaven. For me, the Holy Spirit is truly a still, small voice whenever I'm reminded of scripture or whenever I sense God's presence.

Baptism and the Lord's Supper are expressions of faith, symbolizing Christ's presence and power in our lives. The Sacraments remind us that we are set apart from the world by our faith, and that Christ died and rose again that we may have eternal life.

The Bible is God's word, recorded faithfully by people of faith throughout history. I remember words I learned as a child in Vacation Bible School "...the Bible. God's Holy Word. I will make it a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path. I will hide its words in my heart that I might not sin against God." Two cherished memories of my parents involve their reliance on God's word and their efforts to study and understand it. My Dad read his Bible every evening at the kitchen table, and my Mother spent countless hours in her favorite rocking chair, reading her Bible and preparing to teach a Sunday School lesson. Through their actions, they demonstrated what I believe today - the Bible is our guide as we learn about our faith and share it, and as we try to live as Christ taught us.

"Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy God forever." The Ministry and Mission of the Church in the World is to do that in the many, many ways that God calls us. I believe that we glorify God through worship and that music is a wonderful expression of praise to God. We glorify God through serving others, giving our time and resources to follow Jesus' example of putting God and others before self. I believe that we glorify God by telling others the good news that God sent Jesus Christ as our Savior, and that God is here for us through the Holy Spirit no matter what. Christ's death on the cross and resurrection from death gives us confidence that we live with and through him, now and forever. Resurrection from death gives us confidence that we live with and through him, now and forever.