For our first reflection of the 2021 academic year we hear from Glenna Joyce. Glenna came to St. A’s as a graduate student, graduating in May 2021. She is still an active member of the leadership of our Gathering and we are so proud of her.
Growing up, religion was not a large part of my childhood. I attended an Episcopal Church for two years before we stopped attending services; just long enough to get baptized at the age of 8. In retrospect, I’m glad I was baptized at that age because I had autonomy in choosing and saying, “I am now a part of the church”. I scrawled a note to my mother after the service and placed it on the fridge that said, “I’m happy I’m baptized because I love Jesus and Jesus loves me”. I believed in God and Jesus wholeheartedly.
All through teenage years, my life was filled with school, dance competitions, and volunteering. I chose to make these things my priority, an investment into my future, a plan. My goal was to get into a good college, a not so uncommon aspiration. Simultaneously, distance from religion caused me to reflect upon my younger self and ask, “How foolish of me to believe God?”
This trend of filling up my schedule to the brim with activities and commitments did not cease once I got into my first-choice school. Much like I did in high school, I packed my college schedule with as many credits as possible, as many clubs, and as many jobs. And yet, keeping myself this active did not lead to fulfillment. It was then when the hunger pains of my soul’s craving spiritual food became too ravenous to ignore.
After graduation, I got a job in my college town. “This is my opportunity”, I thought., “This is my chance to lay down roots; my time to feed my soul and find my community.” Though I was invested in the local Episcopal congregation, the same energy was never reciprocated. Here I was, a young single college-aged woman wanting, craving, seeking spiritual guidance and enlightenment from the Church. I felt discouraged, and slowly my attendance and participation in that congregation started to wane, much like it did in my youth.
When I moved to Kentucky for graduate school, again the hunger pangs struck. I wanted community, I wanted to know God and the religion that I supposedly followed. I felt like a hypocrite and a contradiction, knowing and understanding that I wanted spiritual fulfillment, but still not believing in God.
I found St. A’s right in the middle of the pandemic. At St. A’s, I feel welcomed, unjudged, and that I am a priority. Rob, our campus minister, provides beautiful context and weaves a beautiful narrative between each book, chapter, and verse of the Bible that we study. Despite my limited religious education, I am capable of fully participating and understanding the Word with Rob’s guidance. He gives us the autonomy to decide what we want to study. I can read, understand, and believe in the Word of God. At last, I feel my spiritual hunger is satiated, my thirst is quenched. My soul is nourished, and now can grow. With St. A’s and Rob, my belief in God is renewed, as wholeheartedly as it was at my baptism nearly 20 years ago.