Asbury United Methodist Church, Cinnaminson, NJ
Friday, November 24, 2017

Another beautiful sharing of how and why a member joined the Asbury church family. . .

This is a letter Pastor John shared with the congregation that I wrote when had become a member in the spring of 2005.
 
I praise God that He has provided me with a new church home here at Asbury.  One filled with welcoming, friendly members from the first time I stepped into the sanctuary!  I came to visit Asbury on January 16th this year, and I knew before I left that Sunday morning God had guided me to my next church family!
 
I was living in Maryland, but I was in town to spend the weekend with my new bride, Mary, and her two children.  We had just gotten married on January 1st in my mom’s living room, by the minister (now retired) who was my pastor at the Methodist church when I grew up, in South Glens Falls, New York.  Mary and I had been engaged for a couple years, and we were waiting for God to work out the details for when the time would be right for us to begin our life together “full time.”  I have a daughter, son-in-law and grandson, and two sons living in MD.  Over the last 12 years, after my divorce, I have continued to work and live there to be a part of my children’s growing years, as they lived with their mother in Bowie, MD.  My youngest son is nearly 17, and they are grown now, so I knew the right time would be soon.  Last December I was notified that I’d be laid off in February, after 19 years with the company, and to everyone’s surprise, I couldn’t have been happier!  God granted me those years to be actively involved with my children as they grew and matured, and He was opening the door to the next chapter of my life as my “MD connection“ was weakening. 
 
Now, let me describe how I knew Asbury was my new church home in Cinnaminson.  In January, when I stepped into the sanctuary, I saw a very full, and architecturally simple house of God that immediately said two things to me:  1) this is an active congregation, and 2) in a church that has been around a long time.  I was reminded of my church back in Bowie.  I arrived just as the service was beginning, and I spotted an open seat in the middle of a pew about 4 rows back from the front.  I couldn’t help thinking, “Yep, typical Methodist congregation, the late ones sit up front!”  Everything seemed right so far, and I‘m not too shy to make a beeline for the open seat.  The bulletin had several sheets of paper folded within it, and two of them were songs, a definite plus for me as I enjoy singing, and I knew that wherever God would lead me I’d join the choir right away.  I settled into the pew and was soon listening to Pastor John offer some welcoming words.  I could see his enthusiasm and hear the joy in his voice that he was about to lead us in worship.  During the children’s message he playfully engaged the children in his message to them, and got some entertaining responses from his young audience.  After singing some hymns and the music in the bulletin, a friendly lady in front of me turned to me and said, “You should be in the choir.”  I answered her with certainty, “I will be.”
 
It came time for the message and Pastor John brought back memories of my pastor when I was growing up, by the dynamic speaking style and enthusiasm he has.  I enjoyed the message, and the sheet in the bulletin with an outline of the main points of the sermon, with plenty of room to make notes or doodle.  I like to jot down phrases or scripture references, and was quite surprised to find a sheet provided for just that use.  I have only seen one of these in a couple of the many churches I’ve attended or visited over the years.
 
At the end of the service I was welcomed and greeted by several people who had been near where I sat, and I was again feeling as though I was surrounded by friends. As I spoke with Pastor John on the way out of the sanctuary, he recognized me as a visitor and took a moment to offer yet another warm greeting.  I told him I would be moving into the area in February and I’d transfer my membership from Bowie United Methodist Church in MD.  I had been there for 14 years and Asbury has the same warm, family feeling as Bowie had.
 
I am very excited about getting to know my new church home.  I feel blessed that God led me to Asbury before I even left MD!  God is awesome!
 
your brother in Christ,
Randy Soderholm
 
 
It's been 2 years since I wrote this, and I have enjoyed many activities here at Asbury.  I am in the choir, have taught a couple Sunday School classes, and have gotten involved in a couple committees.  I am excited about the effort to create some more small groups where people can get to know each other on a more personal level and share our experiences through activities or bible study or other common interests. 
 
God will help us ease out of our "comfort zones" as we look forward to a growing church membership, to spread His love to fill the expanded sanctuary that He is guiding us to build, and to reach out to our community and those in need throughout His church across the world!   God is still awesome!
 
Oh yes, over the last two years my youngest son graduated high school and is in college, he's spending this summer traveling through Australia!   My older son has graduated from the University of Maryland, and my daughter and her husband have given me a second grandson (in February 2007).  The best part is that Mary and I still feel like newlyweds!  
 
Life goes on, and I'm glad God is in charge!
your Asbury brother in Christ,
Randy