Moment for Witness – Bill Templeton

Moment for Witness  

Bill Templeton

Sunday April 22, 2012 (Earth Day)

Some months ago Rebecca asked me to do this moment for witness – on how Central has transformed my life.   I struggled with it.

I was not ready to stand here before you all.   My faith journey was still just getting started, I thought.  And besides, a story needs an ending before it can be told.

I stalled a month, then pushed it off for weeks, and just last week tried to get out of it again.  I told Rebecca that I had too much to do on the “Earth Day Fair” that we are having after worship today.

Paused with a knowing look, Rebecca said simply “Can’t you move things around?” Knowing then that she saw right through me and my lame excuses, I confessed before it became more painfully obvious:  I had nothing to say next week.   I hadn’t done any work on the assignment, had not a clue on what to say.

“Well, You have a whole week.” she replied, with the matter of fact comfort of one who creates a whole sermon every week.  Then she said of it:

“Its never done, Bill.  If you wait for it to be “done”, it will never be ready.”

That freed me.

So like an unfinished book, this is still a draft. Please forgive this work in progress, that is my faith statement.

I struggled with it as I struggle with my faith itself.  But here we go

How I got here

I have grown from a boy that went regularly to church in NJ

I attended regularly for the same reasons that everyone else I knew did:

My parents Made me do it.

After attaining adulthood and its independence, I drifted a bit from the church.

When Donna and I came to Providence we searched for a church.

She Catholic and me Protestant, we sought a place that would feel familiar in this new home town of ours.

We found this place.

It was here that we would Make Our children, Katharine and Will,

go to church.

They have ever since.  And in a month, with luck, Katharine will be Confirmed.

So – that means I’ve been here about 15 years.   (I guess it’s about time I did this Moment for Witness after all.)

Why?  What is it about this place that draws me in on Sunday?

I struggle with my Faith.

I am a deeply flawed soul.

  • I try to do right
  • I try to love right
  • And I try to forgive right.

Being a Christian is not easy, it’s not for wimps.

You need community and a place for your spiritual home.

This is mine.

For me and my family.

On Sundays I may just sit here and re-set myself.

Restore myself.

I sit in those pews, lost sometimes in my thoughts, gazing at those iridescent windows, listening to angelic music from the loft or wisdom and prayer from the pulpit.  I love the way they all reverberate off the muted heights of those soaring barrel vaults.

It is a wonderful space for that purpose.

And then, I look around, at all of you.

The Community that you create here, that we create, is just as restorative as the space itself.

IN this place there is a community of faith, a spiritual family that shows love and acceptance.

The secular world has lost touch with true “community”.

So much of the “communities” outside these thick stone walls is motivated by self-interest or status or measures of wealth or power.

Here it matters not what you do, it matters who you are, and who you want to be.

And You, like me, Choose to be here.

You too may be struggling with faith and are drawn here by the company.

We all share that in common.

We all want to be here on Sundays.

We could worship separately, but this is a Community of faith.

In this place is the strength of witnessing what others do, what all of you do, these wonderful acts of love and service — both large and small.

These thick stone walls create a Sanctuary from all the noise and confused motives – out there.

I believe in God and in the extraordinary power of love.

I have seen evil, and know it exists, and must be confronted.

But I also have seen the absence of both God and evil.


The secular world outside concerns me, worries me greatly.

Apathy is somehow more threatening because it won’t seek a confrontation.  It seeps into the gaps created in the absence of faith.

Yes, I struggle with my faith. What all That really means is a subject I could go on and on, but not here, perhaps some other time.

Still, I am better for it, better for the struggle. Because the questions here keep me engaged on the topic of what it means to be “Christ-like” in the life that I lead.

This is where I return each week to renew, reset and regroup on my attempts, feeble though they may be, to live up to expectations or aspirations that I imagine my parents had for me when they Made Me go to church.

And it is not a solitary journey.  Thank God for that.

This church has given me, and my little family, a home for that journey of faith.  I am so glad to have found it here, and so glad to be part of this community of faith on Angell Street.

Because when I work on my faith, I do it with you and have strength in numbers.

And for that, I thank, All of You.

Posted in Moments for Witness.