Tim and Donna Tolson

13654271_10154235614934854_6362106169920531511_nWe joined St. Paul’s Ivy in 1989, shortly after moving to Crozet. We were invited to come by my good friend Denise Foster. Although both of us were raised in church-going families, neither of us was Episcopalian: Tim was raised Roman Catholic, and I grew up in the Lutheran faith. The first thing that felt right to us was the worship service – there was much that was familiar to each of us, yet the Book of Common Prayer was new. We found a liturgy that spoke to both of us.

We became involved in the church community at first through our children (Sunday School, the pageant, Vacation Bible School), and then by finding our own ministries in the choir, the worship guilds, and volunteer activities with Habitat and Shrine Mont. We joined dinner groups and we each served on the vestry. At the beginning, our involvement outside of worship seemed like a worthwhile family activity, not unlike sports or scouts. But somewhere in the midst of our busy lives, we both realized that St. Paul’s Ivy had become much more – a sustaining spiritual practice that fed our souls, and grounded us in a loving, challenging, and accepting community.

Over our years of membership, St. Paul’s Ivy has changed quite a bit, welcoming new clergy and new parishioners, and seeking new forms of spiritual community. Yet it has remained for us a blessed place where we find peace, fellowship, and healthy growth. We recently learned a new term while listening to a podcast by Malcolm Gladwell: generous orthodoxy. We want to learn more about this concept, for it seems to summarize much of the goodness that we have known in this church – a place that honors and celebrates tradition, while being open at all times to God’s grace and his people.