Below is the text of the Stewardship testimony given by Nick Sturman on Sunday, Oct. 18.
In September 2009, my mother and I were looking around our new neighborhood for churches, as my family had moved here a few weeks earlier. Our first stop was here at All Saints. We looked around the yard first and when we saw the gorgeous lawn out front, we went in. We then walked around the church a little bit and spoke to the few people that were there and decided the people that we spoke to were nice enough and so we went to the service the following Sunday, and we have been coming ever since. There have been more than a few milestones that I have been through here, joining the acolytes, rite thirteen, my conformation and let’s not forget puberty. All throughout these milestones, I have felt an incredible sense of community and support from my friends, my family, my fellow church-goers, and even sometimes the strangers I pass walking down the street.
This spring I had the amazing opportunity to go to North Carolina for a week with some other teens from our partner church Saint Stephens in South Boston. It was an entire week of good food, good friends, and hard labor. We started out just fixing up a woman’s gutter system and a few other things, and we ended up making fantastic friendships with not only each other, but with the woman and her Non-verbal, autistic son as well. We learned so much over the course of the week, and we broke many social boundaries. For one, I was the only white kid there, and also we learned that this woman who lives in the poorest place in America, started out much the same as we did,and is now living her life in a different way. I felt an incredible sense of human connection, and community just in that fact. The church in that community had a group of local prisoners come and make breakfast as a community service. We got to talk to them a little bit, and we laughed and talked and had a really fantastic time. After breakfast, we went to the church service and all the people were really nice, and I was reminded of the sense of community we have at All Saints here, because we all have a connection that comes through our want to be closer to God through each other. And again I felt a really strong connection to the community and to God.
Through that trip I was offered a job at B-Safe. B-Safe is a summer camp, run by the episcopal diocese of Saint Stephen’s, and a few other churches in the inner city. The camp itself has nothing to do with religious activities, but despite that, I felt even closer to God. I helped coach and monitor kids who were around six or seven years old, and they made me feel really special. They always looked up to me and even through their meltdowns, they helped me feel closer to the people around me and they gave me a sense of community that was unlike anything else I had experienced before. I made friends with many of the staff as well as the kids, and I was closer to god through that. The last week of camp, I went on a retreat with the older group of kids. The camp we went to was the Barbara C. Harris camp up in New Hampshire. I always feel an incredible connection to God whenever I am in the woods, and this time was no exception. Whilst the kids were doing their daily activities, most of the teens went to the extensive ropes course that BCH had to offer. We had a blast, and over the course of the week, we went from the low ropes course to the high ropes, to the climbing wall, and the vertical obstacle course and finally to the Leap of Faith, a 30 foot pillar with a two foot long ledge at the top, and a ball about three feet away, hanging in mid-air. The point of the Leap of Faith, was, once you go the courage to go up there, you were strapped into a harness, and you climbed up to the top, and jumped off the ledge to touch the ball. I finally got up the courage to do it, and in the second that I hung in midair reaching for the big yellow ball, my friends and colleagues looking up at me, I was filled with the power and awe of god, and it was wonderful. I had another sense of community that filled me up, and sent me soaring, quite literally.
Backtrack a few months to January when I joined the Adult choir here at All Saints. I was the youngest choir member by ten or twenty years, I was the baby of the choir. Schola, the children’s choir was not the best fit for me anymore. My voice had changed, and even though Emily Howe, the choir director was trying her best to make my voice work with the choir, but my voice was too low to work with the treble choir anymore. So, my mother, who is in the adult choir now, put in an appeal to put me into the adult choir. At first I thought it would be hard for me to fit in, but I found my place between Robert Honeysucker and Charlie Evett. The other choristers accepted me almost immediately as one of their own and for that I am extremely grateful. I couldn’t have survived without their help. Everytime I sit up there with them, or go to a thursday rehearsal with them, I can’t help but feel like a community with them, and the music and the people just make the feeling of being with God that much stronger.
As you have probably figured out by now, my testimonial is about community. Recently I have been watching a tv show called “Falling Skies” Although there is little to do with religion or spirituality, as it focuses on a future alien invasion, there is one character who is constantly praying to god. There is an episode where someone mocks her and asks if she can ask god for a warplane to combat the alien infestation, and she responds, “I don’t pray for god to give me things, I don’t think that’s how it works.” When she is asked why she prays, she simply says, “I ask god to show me what I can do for him.” This resonated strongly with me, and now whenever I think, “Why am I doing this?” I think of that. Oh, sure I could definitely come up with some partially true, self-centered reason like, “I do this because I want to be a better person,” or “I want to gain life experience.” But, from that quote, I now realize that I do these things not only because I want to become a better person, and gain life experience, but because I want to help the community, and I want to help God. I also believe that to help God, you don’t always have to ask him. He tells you what he wants from you by guiding you in the right direction. I went to North Carolina, because I wanted to push myself, and God guided me to help those people.I went to B-Safe, because it was a good opportunity, and God helped me to help the kids. I joined the Adult Choir, because my voice changed when it did, and I needed to move up, and God helped me through that. God will continue to guide me and lead me on in life, as I progress through High school, college, and the rest of my life, in my community, all because it is what he wants.