The Challenge of Finding a New Church Home

One of the authors of Guideposts' new fiction series, "Savannah Secrets," shares how she fell in love with a historic church in the southern city.

Posted in , May 26, 2020

Savannah's Asbury United Methodist Church

That winter night in 2015, I’d just hung up from a chat with our daughter Elise in Savannah, Georgia, when I had an idea. I turned to my husband, Andy, and said, “What are we doing still living here in Pennsylvania when our daughters and grandchildren are all in Savannah?”

“You’re right,” Andy said. “Social media and video chats just aren’t enough anymore.”

Anne Marie Rodgers
      Anne Marie Rodgers

We were in our fifties, far from retirement, but as a writer, I could work from anywhere, and Andy was amenable to changing jobs. We sold our house and moved to Savannah the following April. We arrived just as the dogwoods and azaleas came into bloom. Strolling along the cobblestone streets of the Historic District, we were enchanted by the elegant old houses and beautifully landscaped squares.

Many mornings, I walked our newly adopted dog in Forsyth Park, in the shade of live oaks draped with silvery Spanish moss. Weekend jaunts to the beaches of Tybee Island with its salt marshes were only a short drive away. We had our two daughters and their families and a beautiful new city to call home, but something was missing. Something very important to us.

Finding a faith community in Savannah that felt both comfortable and inspiring proved to be a challenge. The church we’d attended for a decade in State College would be a tough act to follow. Its vibrant, friendly congregation and outstanding music and theater programs made us feel from the beginning as if we’d found our spiritual home. Would we be able to find a house of worship in Savannah that gave us that same feeling?

We tried large churches and small churches, congregations in historic buildings and more modern settings. But nothing seemed quite right. Then we were invited to a Christmas Eve service at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church in the Victorian District by Elise’s coworker, who sang in the choir. We were struck by the stately splendor of the nearly hundred-year-old brick building with its imposing bell tower.

We entered the dimly lighted sanctuary with its soaring stained glass windows and gazed up at the enormous, brilliant Christmas tree banked by poinsettias. Parishioners greeted us warmly. The hundreds of arrayed chairs were filled with people of all ages, all colors, their faces aglow in the candlelight.

The service began with a dozen dancers in white whirling long scarves to the rhythm of the closely woven harmonies of the choir, a performance that moved me to tears. The pastor then delivered a compelling Christmas sermon.

When the service ended, Andy and I looked at each other, smiling. “It feels right, doesn’t it?” he said.

“Absolutely.” Except for our daughter’s coworker, we didn’t know a soul, but we felt as if we knew this church.

Asbury United Methodist became our faith community in Savannah. We enjoyed its dynamic programs, including God on Broadway, which uses plays to illustrate Christ’s teachings. More than a year and a half later, we moved back to Pennsylvania, but the wonderful memories of that church and of the charming city of Savannah will remain with us always.

Savannah Secrets
Savannah Secrets: The Hidden GateHas Anne Marie Rodgers’s story sparked your interest in Savannah? She’s one of the authors of the inspiring new mystery series from Guideposts Books: Savannah Secrets. Escape to the charming Southern city for mystery-solving fun with sleuths Meredith Bellefontaine and her best friend, Julia Foley. Both need a fresh start, so they reopen Meredith’s late husband’s investigative agency.

You’ll love tagging along as this delightful duo use the power of faith and friendship to uncover Savannah’s most intriguing mysteries. To read a free preview or order the first book in the series, click here.

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