One of the hardest things about being active and invested in a community like Holy Covenant UMC is that we are always in flux. Like our neighborhood and the great city that surrounds it, our makeup is never the same from day to day. We are welcoming new people daily. And we are sending them off with our love almost as often. The following is a letter I received last week just before we sent Todd Peacock-Preston off with God’s blessings on the next leg of his journey to Seattle. I wanted to share it with you (with permission) because, even though it is addressed to me, it isn’t really just for me. These words are yours for the ministry you have done here. I hope they bring you as much joy as they did me. And I hope they serve to reiterate the kind of impact we have in living into our identity as a teaching congregation.
I am Todd Peacock Preston’s mother. I have written this ‘thank you’ letter in my mind a million times over the last few years and like many things now find myself with a deadline – for he is leaving Chicago so I am putting pen to paper so to speak. Todd is our third child and only boy, his sisters are 9 and 7 years older – so at times he has had 3 moms – telling him what to do! Our family is very close and it seems the older they/we get the closer we are.
Five years ago, when Todd got into DePaul and moved to Chicago (1000 miles away from home)– our one request was that he become involved in a church. Pretty quickly he visited Holy Covenant but did not feel it was just right and visited the Downtown UMC. I am not sure how it happened but within a few months he found his way back to HC – I believe very strongly it was a ‘God thing’.
Ed and I have raised loving, strong, independent, faithful and creative children – but we have known from the get-go that we could not raise them alone. So in each of their lives there have been very special people that have supported them in ways that Ed and I were just not able to do and for that we thank God. For Todd, that support came in the shape of a very special church – Holy Covenant – and for that we thank God daily. Todd went to Chicago a young boy in many ways and is leaving Chicago as a strong, confident and content man – thanks to HC.
You see, Todd needed to see himself separate from us – his nuclear family – yet loved and respected for who he is by his church family. And he has. We heard all about Kate’s sermons, Andrew’s music choices, Matt’s asking to meet for coffee, Troy and Walter taking him to lunch, this year’s General Conference and the activities around the Pride month – for years! When he came home and visited our church – we would have lunch discussions about inclusive theology (our church’s isn’t) and what it means to be a part of something not just accepted. HC has touched our family in ways that most churches just dream of ‘touching’ people. When we come to town – we leave after church on Sunday – to worship with Todd.
One of my goals is to see the communion table you asked him to build. We all have blood, sweat and smiles in that table! You will never know what that single act of asking him to make that table did to securely ground his faith in God and humanity. HC has been the complete embodiment of Christ on earth for our family. And for that we will be eternally grateful to you and each member of the church.
As Todd worships with you and HC for the last time this week before his move, I want you to know how much it has meant to me as Todd’s mom to know that he has had HC’s support – unconditionally – HC has given me comfort – knowing that you were there for him and our family. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I have a feeling our paths will cross again – you have been too important in our lives…keep passing it forward..
With deep sincerity and love –
Ginger Peacock Preston