Epworth has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. While my immediate family attended church in Sylvania growing up, my grandfather (Robert Bowe) and great aunt (Dorothy Bowe) were Epworth members since the 1960’s. Epworth was the church we attended with them for Christmas Eve service and Easter. Their love and dedication to the church was unique and something I always admired. They faithfully attended every Sunday service, sitting in one of the front pews behind the reserved choir seats. Every Monday, they both worked in the church office in whatever capacity they could, accounting, sharpening pencils, answering phones, refinishing wood, whatever needed to be done.
One of the many things I learned from them was how important it is to live a God centered life through regular worship. Church was not something meant only for holidays, weddings, funerals, or an occasional life crisis. Going to church regularly was key to developing a personal relationship with God. Being a member was an opportunity to not only share their gifts and talents, but to also be blessed with love, friendship, and support through life's journey. When I returned to Toledo in 2013 after 18 years living in Jacksonville, FL, there was no doubt in my mind where I would choose to worship. My mother, Robin Jacob, had since become a member at Epworth as well. It meant so much for all of us to worship together as a family. I was drawn by the warmth of the friendly people who genuinely cared about each of us. As we celebrated both my grandfather's and great aunt’s 100th birthdays, it was clear how deeply enriched their lives had been by the relationships formed at Epworth.
Many years have passed now. My two sons Cameron (8) and Bowe (5) have both been baptized here as fourth generation Epworth members. I look forward to them developing their own faith within this church. We have received so much love and support from our church family during life’s challenging moments as well as celebrating the all the joys we have been blessed with. Because of this church, I know with certainty that I can do all things in life through Christ who gives me strength. That strength comes from the friendly smiles I look forward to seeing each week, the exchange of emails, cards, Facebook requests, Wesley group gatherings, and participating in Bible studies.
Today, we still sit in the very same pew Grandad and Aunt Dorothy sat in right up front. At times, I have considered moving a couple rows back in a more inauspicious location, but sometimes the sunlight shines down just right on that pew through the stained glass window. It gives me a sense of them giving me one of their warm hugs. We are very much still worshipping together as a family. I often visit my grandfather and great aunt in the Memory Garden on my way out from service and I truly believe they are smiling down on their beloved church. Epworth is a church for all generations.