What has hundreds of hands and feet, a local and global impact, an ever-growing commitment to justice, nearly 75 years of history, a really long name, and exists thanks to folks like you?
As the Toth family began searching for a new church home, they knew what was important: “A community with a strong voice for social justice as well as an open and affirming place of worship.” They were drawn to MHCUCC’s service activities, such as WorKship Sundays, and its ONA Covenant. Laura attended alone in late summer of 2018 and was “impressed. . . by the overall atmosphere.” She adds, “It’s easy to see how MHCUCC welcomes all.”
The family of four – Laura, Dave, Noah, and Paige – began attending regularly. A confirmation class had launched not long before, which Paige joined. She quickly caught up, attending retreats and other sessions, and experiencing a great deal of faith formation throughout the process. “We were so filled with joy to see our daughter confirmed in June of 2019.”
In fact, Paige was the first to become a member! Dave, Laura, and Noah, now a college-bound young man, joined later that summer. The entire family soon became active, participating in worship through song and liturgy, in spiritual development through youth group and the adult study on Sunday mornings, in service projects, and most recently through Dave joining the Building, Equipment & Grounds Committee and Laura joining the Governance Board. “Getting involved in the church has been a great way to grow our faith.”
The family, drawn by MHCUCC’s welcoming environment, wants “to see the church continue to grow and become a beacon” in the larger community through that same welcome. “We can be loving and supporting and a leader of acceptance and an advocate to all those who may need our assistance.” It’s a core value the Toth family shares with MHCUCC, along with ‘walking the talk’.
“We give. . . because we love to help and contribute to the church community. It is a part of who we want to be as church members.”
Patti Skvoretz first came with her family to MHCUCC as a schoolgirl in 1969, and while in high school alternated attending here and at a Catholic church with her boyfriend Mark. It wasn’t until her college years that she became committed after her former high school choir director, also the MHCUCC choir director, invited her to add her voice. “Music was my first connection to the church. It was something I could give, and I found a place where I felt I belonged.”
Chancel choir led to bell choir, then being hired first as the youth bell choir director, then as director of the children’s choir. Music tethered Mark, Patti, and their daughters Kelsey and Kaitlyn to MHCUCC in many ways over the following decades: both girls singing in the children’s choir, the whole family participating in the sign choir, and Mark, Patti and Kaitlyn performing in the Middleburg Musicians.
Family and friends were another powerful connection. Mark’s mother was a member, and both Patti and Mark had siblings married here. The high school sweethearts followed suit in 1983, after joining the prior year. “We made friends very quickly.”
Patti shares that she’s wrestled with her faith over the years, but that “MHCUCC has been a place of comfort. The people are not only our friends, but the feeling of church family is strong.” This connection with the church is what keeps them rooted here. Regardless of their personal feelings about changes over the years, they “do believe change is a very good thing. It is what helps us to learn and experience life in new and different ways.” Patti feels the forced change to virtual worship over the last few months might signal a new way of connecting with and serving the wider community.
“The church has offered so much to us and our family over the years,” she says. Giving back through “the three T’s” of time, talent, and treasure is a positive practice for the Skvoretzes. Patti hopes “my contributions have made a difference.”
Ann Over was a babe-in-arms when she first came to MHCUCC, baptized here at age three when her parents joined. It was “a strong history and family connection” that brought her back after completing college. The UCC was a good fit for both her and her husband. Later, as she and her siblings started growing their families, spiritual formation for their children was a priority. Ann says she feels she has always had “a strong extended ‘family’ at MHCUCC,” defining that feeling as sharing “good times and bad” with others, and receiving “honest, non-judgmental support every time I need it.”
While Ann believes “we have even more room to grow in terms of our diversity”, this life-long member feels the welcome she tries to extend to all is reciprocated with our “friendly, caring” congregation that’s “passionate about helping others.” She’d love to see “each person bring one new friend to WorKship or another project at least once a year.”
As a self-described doer, it’s this dedication to serving at MHCUCC that means a lot to Ann. “I’m probably most enthused about the ‘Go’ aspects” of the mission and vision of church, she says. She enthusiastically lists many of the opportunities MHCUCC offers to benefit the greater Cleveland community and beyond.
Giving, for Ann, is another piece of participating in ‘Go’. “I am so pleased to witness the positive impact of my gifts on the local and greater communities around me, alleviating real suffering for others.” For her, it’s another form of taking action. Following in the footsteps of her parents and church leaders and the teachings of Jesus, Ann hopes to turn her example into a legacy for her own children and grandchildren. “It’s the right thing to do,” she says.
“When I give, I feel great personal satisfaction and strong support from my church family.”
Invested nearly $57,000 in local & global ministries.
Hosted hundreds of support group sessions & community meetings.
Spent nearly 3,000 hours in faith formation activities.
Worshiped around 120 hours for
Sundays and special services.
Welcomed 28 new members
into our faith family.
Who participates in the spiritual practice of giving? Who does it knowing their gifts keep MHCUCC moving forward with its mission? Who creates a legacy of faithfulness?
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