Good Morning Brothers and Sisters in Christ of Westminster, my name is Justin, and my name is Sophie, and we are the Komlan Family.
We are humbled to be in front of the congregation today to share a story of our journey with Westminster as part of the 2020 Stewardship Program.
Many of you do not know me and my family. Sophie and I moved from Togo (West Africa) to Minnesota on July 21, 2004. The following Sunday, we landed at Westminster to continue our regular Sunday worship that we so love not to miss in our congregations back in Togo.
Our experience here that first Sunday was quite remarkable. The first person we met entering the Sanctuary was Barbara Mauk. After greeting us with kindness and asking us about where we were from, she connected us to Emmanuel Ablorh, the second person and Usher we met. I want to thank all the Ushers for the warm welcome they extend to every stranger like me entering this Church. You are the face of the Church. The welcome that day gave us courage to return the next Sunday, the Sunday after that, until we became members of the Church four months later.
Adjusting to our new Church was not that easy, but was filled with acceptance of who we are, support, encouragement, and love. Coming from a French- speaking country, attending worship in English and understanding the sermon was a challenge. The classic and silent way the service was conducted was not to our taste, but there was one thing undeniable about Westminster: making everybody feel welcome and loved. That is what keeps us here 15 years later.
The theme of this season’s stewardship Program is “Building the Beloved Community”.
I remember when Sophie was pregnant with Prisca our daughter and Barbara Mauk took the liberty to throw her a Baby Shower. She invited Church members most of them seniors, gathered around us that day, in the Bates Room, to share their presence, kindness, and love, with strangers like us. Seeing people we do not know making us feel like one of their own gave us a sense of belonging and respect. It exemplifies their love for neighbor as themselves.
On Christmas Eve 2012, our son Nehemie was probably the first “black baby Jesus” to have played in the Christmas Pageant here at Westminster. Feeling the love of this congregation, he slept peacefully through the service and was dubbed a “sleeping baby Jesus”. Until today, Nehemie is well known around the Church. He told me one day: “Daddy, I am very famous!”
Fifteen years after becoming a member, it is my call and responsibility to help extend the same love I have experienced in this church to others, and to support programs at the heart of this Church, such as feeding and sheltering the needy, improving race relations, Criminal Justice reform, and being the voice of the voiceless.
During every stewardship season, my wife and I pledge. It is our modest way to show appreciation to God’s love for us, and also an act of faith. We give not because we have in abundance, but because we believe “It is more blessed to give than receive.” (Acts 20:35). It is our moral duty as Christians to contribute to the work of God and support all these good programs. Our contribution also helps care for the house of worship we dearly enjoy to gather in as one family of believers.
We invite you to prayerfully consider sowing in the work of God by pledging this season under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Stewardship pledge invitations will arrive in your home the week of November 11; please pledge online or bring your pledge to church on Stewardship Sunday, November 17. May Our Lord Jesus Christ guide each one of us when considering our pledge amount.