Summertime is the perfect season to get swept away in a great story. We tell stories around the campfire, swap stories of our adventures, and devour stories poolside page by page. This summer, we have a new series called “Saint Luke Stories” featuring stories of how various members of our community found their way to Saint Luke and why they call it home.
Our first story comes from Marie Lambeck and her daughter, Jennifer Atkins. While they have both been involved in a wide variety of ways individually at Saint Luke, this mother daughter duo currently sings together in the choir. Enjoy!
Three generations have been impacted by Saint Luke Lutheran Church, and it all began with the Yellow Pages. Marie Lambeck, who recently celebrated a special birthday, is not slowing down anytime soon, after all she is too busy volunteering in the church office, redesigning the bulletin boards, and helping with VBS! While now an active member of the community, her witt, vivaciousness, and humor shine brightly as she recalls the story of her initial journey to Saint Luke. Although she would claim that her story is “not very dramatic,” it is certainly interesting, spanning generations!
Back in the 1960’s, Marie and her late husband, Jule, relocated to the Devon area from Boston. When asked how she found her way to Saint Luke, she lets out a warm laugh, and replies saying, “Through the Yellow Pages. You can tell what an antique I am because I don’t even think there are Yellow Pages anymore!” Marie, Jule, and their two young daughters, Christine and Jennifer, moved to Pennsylvania at the start of a week and before the first weekend had arrived, Marie knew that she needed to find a church for her family so she pulled out the Yellow Pages, flipped to “churches”, and gave Saint Luke a call. She spoke with a pastor, who gave her directions and on Sunday they attended. It was the closest Lutheran church to their home and for a young family close proximity was important. Having been raised in a Lutheran church, Marie recalls a both friendly and familiar atmosphere upon visiting. The similarities to their previous church in Boston provided them with a little extra comfort as they aimed to cultivate a new sense of home.
After their first visit, the rest is history. For the Lambecks, Sunday school, worship, and involvement in church activities was simply a way of life. Each week, Christine and Jennifer would get in their pretty church dresses and off they went to Sunday School and worship with their parents. Reflecting back on her childhood experience of Saint Luke, Jennifer shares that one word sums it up well, “family.” She has been a part of Saint Luke for most of her life and enjoyed the Sunday ritual of spending time as a family, going to church and out to lunch afterwards. Some particularly special memories arise as she reflects on the outdoor Easter sunrise services she attended as a young girl. While she admits that as a child she likely did not want to get up at the crack of dawn, as an adult she looks back fondly on those early still mornings, worshiping with her family, and then partaking in the deliciously sticky pancake breakfasts afterward. And now, years later, her own daughter, Allie, too has grown up around Saint Luke, experiencing many of the same memory making traditions. This past Easter, Allie, now a sophomore at Drexel University, was at Saint Luke with Jennifer and they came across a tapestry near the children’s classrooms. As they paused to take a closer look, they saw a tiny little handprint from Allie, a symbolic representation of the once little girl who attended that very Sunday School. Like grandmother, like mother, like daughter, they have experienced life— weddings, baptisms, funerals, laughter and tears— within those walls.
When asked, why they keep returning to Saint Luke after all these years, Jennifer and Marie both share about the vital part of their life it has been. They have found dear friends, opportunities to make a difference in the area, a place to grow in their faith, and a welcoming community. At Saint Luke, there are those who have been life-long Lutherans like Marie and Jennifer, and yet they both share the pride they feel for the way that Saint Luke accepts everyone regardless of where they are in their faith journeys, their background, or what has occurred in their lives. Whether you have been regularly attending a church for years or it is your very first step into a community of faith, you will be embraced. Jennifer shares about this journeying aspect of our spiritual lives, explaining, “Faith pulls you back, whether you are actively involved or not going to church.” Marie knows that some people may find themselves with various reservations about attending church, fearing rejection, judgement, and shame. She aims to set those minds at ease, as she says, “Everybody has something that they feel a little iffy about, those little niggles here and there, but if we share those niggles, I think we are a lot better off... All are welcome.”
Looking back over the years, Marie and Jennifer have so much to smile about, and as they look forward, they are equally joyous about the future at Saint Luke. While Jennifer is aware that in this day in age people are not going to church as much, she remains hopeful that others will come to experience the “warm, welcoming community” of Saint Luke. She assures first-time guests that they will be noticed, but that people will not be pushy or bombard them. “You can get as connected as you want and it won’t take a lot of effort. People will take to you right away,” says Jennifer. Similarly, Marie offers a personal invitation to those that might be contemplating a visit to Saint Luke. Her response to someone’s potential interest: “I am thrilled! Welcome! I’ll meet you at the front door.”
Marie and Jennifer will be there, waiting for you, ready to transform a stranger into a fast friend with the love, gentleness, and acceptance that comes from lives transformed by Christ.