By Kalani Brown
Lee’s Summit, Missouri, USA
Those who don’t know Community of Christ might come into our church on edge. They might think we’re boring. They might think we will attack them with superiority and judgment. To them, church has been a place where they were told they were wrong or don’t belong. They are people who are hurt. They’re searching for love, searching for family.
But we try not to be judgmental. We know that we all worship God in different ways and learn in different ways. Paul (my Sunday school teacher) can teach me about God during a fierce game of Ping-Pong. Dana and Joan greet us with open arms to show that we all are welcome. Wendy—with kindness and encouragement—helps everyone quickly settle into the community.
At my Colonial Hills Congregation, Kristi and Cara work hard to make sure everyone gets a part during the annual kids Christmas play. The whole community is invited when we have our Santa pancake breakfast and gift store, where we get to buy $1.00 presents for family and friends.
All the little ones get to participate in our weekly offertory, bringing their coins and dollars to help those in need through the Necessity Pantry. Some get a little too excited and bring up an offering two, three, or four times in the same service, which makes the parents smile. And we’re all about inclusiveness. My mother makes sure I am included, whether I like it or not, every time we sing for church.
Paul (my Sunday school teacher) can teach me about God during a fierce game of Ping-Pong. Dana and Joan greet us with open arms to show that we all are welcome. Wendy—with kindness and encouragement—helps everyone quickly settle into the community.
We are far from boring. We learn and laugh through fun activities at summer youth camps at Camp Doniphan in Excelsior Springs, Missouri, USA, where we play GaGa ball and Werewolf, swim and canoe, and even play exciting water games like water 9Square. As the “Snack Kings,” we’ve loaded our cabin with goodies, and we enjoy even more at canteen, where it is all about the ice cream and soda for me.
Our counselors are nice and welcoming, and we get to know them and our cabinmates throughout the week. As my sister, Vanna, says, we all become family in just one, short week.
Reunions at Brush Creek in Xenia, Illinois, USA, also are places to be part of a family even bigger than my own, and I feel like I belong. I’ve been attending since I was 1 year old, and it’s a place my mother attended as a kid.
Brush Creek is peaceful. It provides a time to play Ping-Pong and air hockey with friends like Gael, Sam, Jake, and Abby, and an opportunity to release all my stress and relax. I get to laugh my head off, watching Daniel in tights and my dad dressed as a lady at the annual talent show.
I enjoy friends and healthy competition during the annual fishing tournament, and I get to have canteen, where I eat all the hot wings and try to beat my record of twenty-three fudge bars in one week.
From my church, youth camp, and reunion experiences I am learning what it means to be part of Community of Christ. I know God loves us, no matter what.
Reunion is about having fun with friends and family. I love spending time with my parents and siblings, making new memories. I love that everywhere I turn, there is an “aunt” nearby like MiJean, Sarah, Kerri, Diana, and Karen—none family by blood, but all by love.
From my church, youth camp, and reunion experiences I am learning what it means to be part of Community of Christ. I know God loves us, no matter what. I know it is important to be kind and caring to those around us, even when it might be hard. I know that part of having a successful life is helping others.
I know that God makes us unique in many ways, but we’re the same, too, on the inside. And God does not care how different we are; we all are loved the same.
With love all around in Community of Christ, we feel safe, seen, and close to God. But that is not the final goal. When we leave church, the challenge is to bring God with us into this chaotic world, to create peace, to share God’s love.
This is the challenge. It is not easy, but it’s an important goal. God promises always to be with us as we try.
About the Author
Congregation: Colonial Hills in Blue Springs, Missouri, USA
School: Lee’s Summit North High
Favorite subject: science (biology)