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Stories from Westminster, April Cranford

In the summer of 2011, I first served with Westminster Presbyterian Church in the beautiful hills of West Virginia through Summerlee Mission. Four years later, I answered the call to serve as Westminster's pastor. I am grateful for how God began our story with mission and has continued to author our pages together as a church family in mission and ministry.

Growing up, I sat in a pew toward the back of First Presbyterian Church in Boone, North Carolina with my sister and paternal grandparents. Every Sunday, I absorbed the love of God from stories shared by pastors in the pulpit and Sunday school teachers in a classroom. After church, my family enjoyed lunch at my grandparent’s house. Sundays were always good and holy days.

As a child, I did not realize my family was considered a "low-income household." My dad received disability benefits, and my mom worked as a cashier at Lowe's Hardware. Over the years, my sister and I received free lunches at school and large boxes of clothes from our maternal grandparents. Also, extended family members wrote checks for large expenses like unexpected bills and school field trips.

My paternal grandparents visited our home on a regular basis. One day, I overheard Pop (my step-grandfather and retired pastor) talk to my parents about tithing. He encouraged them to offer a small portion of money to the church and begin the habit of giving.

Along with learning about God’s love in a pew, I witnessed God’s love through Pop’s words of generosity and from countless people who provided generously for our family. At the age of 15, I received my first paycheck and for three decades, I have practiced the habit of tithing to the church and giving to missions.

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus taught his disciples that God is present among us in the poor and suffering. As a servant of Christ, I attempt to daily live this passage and feel closest to God whenever I serve those in need by giving my time, skills, and money.

Thank you, Westminster for being a sacred place where all people can experience God’s presence as every ministry serves in mission. May our generous God continue to use us for his glory both inside and beyond the church walls.

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