BY SUSIE TURGEON
The church is more than an event that happens on Sunday. It is a beautiful collection of people with stories of how God is changing them, and inspiring them to change the world. We are consistently humbled and encouraged by how Forefront is making its mark on the hearts and imaginations of people all over New York City. We have asked a few members of our community to tell us the story of how Forefront has left its imprint on their lives. This week Susie Turgeon writes about how Forefront became her church family, and why it was worth the wait.
We’ve all heard that or some variation of it in our lives. It’s usually said in hindsight - after you know the outcome of a period of waiting. It’s a positive message, but what it doesn’t convey is the sheer frustration that can come from an extended period of waiting.
In April of 2014, I found myself as a new resident of New York City. Starting over in a new city wasn’t exactly new to me – this was my third out of state move in less than five years. By this time, I even had my new city routine down. Find an apartment, decorate and make it home, find the places that would become my “regular” spots, and find a church to get plugged in to. The last one was something that had come surprisingly easy to me with my two previous moves. It was also something that did not come easy to me in New York.
I started strong – I found a church in my neighborhood that I liked and jumped in feet first. I dutifully attended every Sunday and made several attempts to get connected with small groups and community groups. For various reasons, all of those attempts fizzled out. I made a few friends (which I was so thankful for), but it was a far cry from the community I craved. But I continued pursuing ways to get involved, and when I finally accepted that it wasn’t working at this particular church, I went in search of others. This led to months of further frustration. Going to a new church alone is tough, and it’s easy to go unnoticed. I started to feel like I was just spinning my wheels and got tired of trying so hard. I loved my life in New York, but I also knew I was missing community and too emotionally exhausted to keep looking for it.
After I’d been in the city almost a year, all of that changed. While catching up with a visiting friend, I ended up airing my frustrations about finding a church out on him. He’d heard of Forefront through one of his New York friends, so he connected me with her. A few weeks later I walked into the Gramercy Theater for the first time, and an hour and a half later I knew I’d found my church. I was greeted with a warm welcome, I loved the worship, and Ryan’s message was so impactful that it stayed with me for weeks. I came back week after week continued to be welcomed with open arms. I was noticed. I had found my community. In doing so, I’d also found a church that I was proud to be a part of. One that recognizes talented women and encourages them to be strong leaders. One that loves and affirms my LGBTQ friends and family. One that is more concerned with asking good questions and having healthy dialogues than having to have the right answers. One that celebrates the differences in all of us because we all matter to God. One that challenges me not just to be a better Christian, but to be a better person.
A year and a half later, I am still proud to be a part of this church community and am now part of the leadership community. As a leader, one of my biggest hopes is that everyone who walks into Forefront’s doors for the first time is welcomed with the same warmth and love that I experienced. This community is something special, and something this special needs to be shared.
During this time of year when everyone tends to look back and reflect on what they’re grateful for, I’m reflecting on how Forefront has become one of the best things in my life. And yes, it was worth waiting for.