116 N Academy St, Murfreesboro, TN 37130  615-893-3780

Donna Gunter

The Joy and Reverence of Unity 
in God’s Presence

St. Paul’s is the only Episcopal church I’ve ever belonged to. I’m a Murfreesboro native who was brought up in a Baptist church. Likewise, I raised my children in a Baptist church where I hoped they would find a relationship with God and an identity as Christians. Unfortunately, the Baptist church that they experienced was not the same loving and open-minded church I knew as a child. We eventually withdrew from that church and lived without a church home for years.

In 2013, we experienced a year of overwhelming stress, where many things went wrong: the death of a pet, a totaled car, and a family crisis. I felt shaken. I became determined to visit churches in the Murfreesboro area, even if I had to do it by myself. I had visited St. Paul’s once before and found it fascinating, but reasoned that it was doubtful that I would make such a significant change of denomination. I talked myself out of it! God had other plans. I tried out a Methodist church. I really wanted it to work, but it didn’t seem to be where I belonged.

As troubles in my life began to be solved, my then 18-year-old daughter, Savannah, expressed a desire to visit St. Paul’s. We visited many times, and we both loved it. We were warmly welcomed, not just with words, but with joy and hugs!

I have many good memories of our time here at St. Paul’s. Savannah and I started Pilgrimage classes to learn about Episcopal beliefs and to meet people. In Pilgrimage, I was relieved to find a place where it was safe to voice doubts and to ask hard questions. I met such dear people. Many of us arrived as strangers, and yet by the end of the session, we felt like family.

I chose to be confirmed in October 2017 and then went to Cursillo afterward. Anyone who has been to Cursillo can tell you that you feel an overwhelming sense of being loved and of being one family in Christ. It is an experience unlike any other. But if I had to pick one memory that is very special to me, it would be a profound moment of worship on a retreat with the women of St. Paul’s. We were celebrating communion in the chapel of the convent at St. Mary’s. Our celebrant brought all of us to the front to gather around God’s table. As I stood there in the sunlight, shoulder to shoulder with the women, I felt the holiness of the moment. But it wasn’t holy because we were in a convent or a chapel; it was holy because we were as one—equally saved and equally loved by a holy God, experiencing the joy and reverence of unity in God’s presence. When I attend the 11 a.m. service at St. Paul’s, I often remember that moment.

It brings me joy to give my time and treasure to St. Paul’s because I see that our church really ministers. I give money to support our ministries because we don’t just talk about meeting needs, we actually do it. We are a church who welcomes everyone and includes everyone. I am a member of the Greeters’ team because I am happy to welcome visitors as I was greeted years ago. I am also a part of the Offering Team. I started as a substitute and then became a once-a-month counter. Over the years, I have been involved in the planning of Women’s Retreats and have supported the ECW. I give to our food drives, VBS supplies, Undie Sundays, Coldest Nights, the CONNECT ministry, and the children’s Angel Tree. I love having the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives through these ministries. I thank God every Sunday for bringing me to this beautiful group of people known as St. Paul’s.

I urge everyone at St. Paul’s to give generously. If you don’t have money, give time. If you don’t have time, give money. (If you can give both, even better!) Give encouragement to the ones who lead ministries. Give more hugs. Give love to one another.

  • WORSHIP—11 a.m. service
  • SERVE—Pilgrimage, Cursillo, Greeter, Offertory Team, ECW, Women’s Retreat
  • GIVE—It brings me joy to give my time and treasure to St. Paul’s

“And God can provide you with every blessing in abundance so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 RSV

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