Faces on Faith: A joy to be part of such a faith community
It is hard to believe that it was only two-plus years ago that I crossed the Causeway to these beautiful barrier islands. Well, actually I had been down a year before when I had come down as a candidate for pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea. That was a whirlwind visit with names and faces flowing like a mighty river. I was introduced to a lot of folks whose names I tried to remember and given the grand tour of the various attractions on Sanibel and Captiva. Then it was over and I went home wondering what would come of it. Almost three years later I’m getting ready to end my three-season stint as pastor and beginning to feel all the things you do when you get ready to leave a place and people you have grown to love.
John Danner had asked me to write for this column even before I arrived so people read my words before they saw my face. It has been a joy to get to know so many wonderful folks in my time and to realize that all of us are connected in this bundle of humanity. The Chapel by the Sea has a mission to welcome one and all to this place of sacred memory and present experience and to feel the presence of God both in the natural surroundings and in the men and women, youth and children who come each Sunday to lift heart and voice in praise and thanksgiving. Each Sunday I have at the beginning of worship said: “Whoever you are and wherever you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” It has been a joy to be part of such a faith community.
During these three seasons, I have come to appreciate more than ever, the fragile web that holds us all together, all God’s creatures great and small. The natural world is near to us here and you gain a perspective, or at least I have, which I will carry with me for the remainder of my days. I am also impressed by the warm relations between the faith communities on our islands and the opportunity we have to come together for worship and learning. The annual “Shared Scholar” lecture is an example of cooperation which witnesses to both our diversity and our unity. The Chapel by the Sea has been on board with this from the beginning and it will continue to be so in the years to come.
After the last service of the season on April 28, the Chapel by the Sea will close until the beginning of the 2019-2020 season begins the second Sunday of November. I will say good bye to these beautiful islands, but most certainly will be back, you can depend on that. I know that my successor, the Rev. Larry Marshall and his wife, Rosemary, will come to love both this place and its people as much as I have.
So, thank you for letting me be a part of the life of these blessed islands. God bless you all.
The Rev. John N. Cedarleaf is the pastor at the Captiva Chapel by the Sea.