On Being: New

By Sandra Seaborn, Associate Priest

Posted on August 26, 2015

By the time I got to church, it was just after 5 p.m. The moving company had come early and now I found myself late for an, albeit unscheduled, visit. I was ready to explore St. Paul’s informally and unofficially – only the doors were locked. That’s a danger of being new, you make assumptions about how things are and without knowing people to check in with – sometimes, those assumptions lead to locked doors.
I have more practice than most at being new. I moved around growing up because of my dad’s job. Post undergrad at UofT, the trend has continued, in 17 years of marriage we’ve moved to five different cities. Toronto finally feels like coming home. So, with all those moves I get what needs to be done when you start afresh. I make lists, ask a lot of questions, pray, eat more take-out than normal and do as much reconnaissance as possible.  
Yet, even with all that preparation I am still learning, always learning. In my first week on staff, after getting a tour and a key, I still managed to get lost several times – turning the wrong way down a corridor or going up one too many flights of stairs. At least now I know where the restrooms are, including one almost hidden at the back of the church.  
Because St. Paul’s is big and it is easy to get “lost” once you wander away from the Sanctuary. While I hope that doesn’t happen to you, if you do wonder where you are or how you got there (physically or spiritually) – know you aren’t the first one and there are people around to help.
In fact, part of my role at St. Paul’s is to support and strengthen the Newcomer’s Ministries. I look forward to finding out about the existing and various ways people already find connection with each other and their faith; as well as hearing ideas of new ways and means through which we can support one another in our journeys of walking with Jesus.  
Being new to St. Paul’s has advantages. I am particularly grateful for the gift of new relationships. I have been warmly welcomed by old-timers and newcomers alike. I love hearing stories of God’s faithfulness.  Finding connections with others in ordinary shared experiences, family challenges, or the love of ice cream Sundaes brings the present reality of Jesus into daily life – truly encouraging.  
Into my second week, my boxes are unpacked and I now know where to park the car and which end to board the subway train. So, if you are new or ready to explore St. Paul’s – my door is open.