I’ve given my life to the church. I also know that this wouldn’t be possible without the support and encouragement of family! This is a first of many entries under the theme: Family and Church!
I thank my parents, Sanford and Helen Cundiff, for being parents who made sure church was part of my life. Born in 1951, my parents introduced me to the church through baptism on April 15, 1953. I was baptized in a small chapel by Dr. John M. Pattison at the First Presbyterian Church of Cheyenne, Wyoming. While born in Cheyenne, our family soon moved to Denver. I was only three or four years old. I had an older brother, David, and a younger sister, Susan.
It was in Aurora, Colorado where my parents introduced me to another Presbyterian Church—the First Presbyterian Church of Aurora, Colorado. I belonged to this church until I was ordained.
When we moved to Colorado we initially lived as a family of five at the Ranger Motel on Colfax in Aurora. My dad was busy helping to build our first Colorado home. That motel is still located on Colfax. I remember, in our downstairs room, the pay-television. If I recall, we had to put a dime or quarter in a small machine on top of this television order to get thirty minutes of programming. This was much like the machine that controlled a vibrator on the bed. 🙂
This motel was across the street and of block away from the First Presbyterian Church on Kingston Street.. As a family, we were active in this church. I have always been a Presbyterian! While we never really talked about it, this Presbyterian church was an anchor for our family. With my family and this church I discovered early in my life, to borrow from some creeds, “that I belong to God”. Church became for me, through this First Presbyterian Church of Aurora, a second home.
I attended Sunday School classes and youth fellowship. I sang in the youth choir. I remember, as a fifth grader, shooting a rubber band at my dad who was a Sunday school teacher. Everybody learned that he had quite the voice when it came to showing his temper. I may not remember the lessons taught in those Sunday school classes, but engrained in my heart was this sense that I belonged – and family church were the core of this belief.
While we moved into different houses that my dad helped to build, this First Presbyterian Church remained my church home until I was ordained in 1977. I remember the long Saturday morning sessions in confirmation class – and learning and memorizing the Westminster Shorter Catechism—confirmed in the mid-60’s.
I was introduced to worship leadership with the Rev. CVR DeYoung. I would read scripture and sing an occasional solo with the choir. Oh yes, private music lessons and choir under the direction of Ken Graham were an important part of my life in belonging to the church.
Rev. DeYoung and Rev. Meanor, the Assistant pastor, were always giving me opportunities to help lead worship. This was unusual in the 60’s in Presbyterian Churches! Rev. DeYoung once took me to his office on a Sunday morning. Opening the closet door he pulled out a black and blue tie. He had me pick one. The paisley one I was wearing wasn’t appropriate for a worship leader. I learned many things in leading worship. For example, I must always sit with both feet flat on the floor in front of me. These pastoral mentors saw what my parents always knew – I was a wiggly, squirmy kid always on-the move. They also saw some potential in my becoming a leader in the church. They may have been wondering: “Would I become a pastor?”
From early in life, I learned that I belonged to God. I was greatly influenced to be open minded, if you will, a progressive thinker. I also learned to accept others from where they were in their faith journeys. These teachings came from both church and family. I had people around me, family and friends and mentors, who helped me recognize a “calling” to be an ordained pastor.
Now forty years after ordination I am turning 65. Thanks to my mom and dad for introducing me to the church through baptism. Thanks to the church for giving me a life-long sense that I belonged to God. In retirement, I now have time to write about this journey – and what better place to write than in this blog. There will be more to come!