By Kyle Gascho
So how did I come to believe?
As a young boy, I went with my parents to a Mennonite Church just outside of a little hamlet called Poole, about 20 minutes north of Stratford. For those of you imagining a young Kyle wearing suspenders and a straw hat, think again…though I’m sure I could pull off that fashionable look quite well.
For my family it was just where we went to church, not a way of life. I remember going to Sunday School vividly, because it was after the worship service, and my parents would leave my twin brother and I there while they went to visit my Grandma and Grandpa. Let’s be honest here, I would have much preferred a visit with grandparents than sitting in the basement of a Church learning about some Jesus guy! Alas, I had no choice in the matter.
Growing up in Stratford, we had an older couple living down the street from us. Len and Gerda Ferguson quickly became adopted grandparents to me, known as Oma and Opa. They attended St. James Anglican Church in Stratford! I ended up having this big interest in going to church with Oma and Opa. However, it wasn’t because I wanted to go to church, it was the trip to McDonalds that occurred after church with a big group of parishioners that piqued my interest…Even if it did mean having to sit through a long and boring church service.
As I got older, I started paying attention to the liturgy and the words preached by our rector, Rev. Lorne Mitchell and also at the time Rev. Lynn Mitchell. I started attending more regularly. In September of 2011, on a red-eye flight home from a family vacation on a Saturday night, out of nowhere it hit me. I was going to become a member of St. James, and when I got home in the morning, I went and became a parishioner. Was it the Holy Spirit working among us? Or was it the delusional thoughts of a teenager running on no sleep? That question is still up for debate…
When my Opa died in 2014, I questioned my faith and my beliefs. How could the God I believe in take away someone so instrumental and important to my life? Who was I without my greatest advisor? (My conscience even).
Having many discussions with my dear friend and mentor, Jane Kirkpatrick, as well as a time of discernment, I realized something of great value. My Opa wasn’t taken away from me, he was still with me. Maybe not in the flesh, but he was and still is watching over me. My God didn’t take him away from me.
I am eternally grateful to my Oma and Opa for introducing me to my faith family at St. James and now across the Diocese of Huron. Thanks to them, I have exceptional role models in my life like the Reverend Canon Tom Patterson and Reverend Stephanie Donaldson…My connection to St. James, the wider church, and my relationships with Tom and Stephanie have helped to strengthen my relationship with God. I feel closer to God more now than I ever have!
Over the last few years, I have become heavily involved in the life of the church, both locally and in the Diocese of Huron. One thing that I try to bring with me everywhere I go when working in God’s Church, is that we are all children of God. Wherever we go and whoever we interact with, we have God among us and guiding us.
As someone who loves our Church, I look forward to connecting with all of you, whether it be here at Synod or through my work at Huron Church House.
May the Peace of God be with you now and as we walk together on the road with Christ. Thank you!
Kyle Gascho is the Verger and Treasurer at St. James in Stratford. He also works at Huron Church House as the Technology & Resource Assistant.