Of Cannonballs and Computers
by Louisa Casadei-Johnson
March 15, 2022
“When my wife and I moved here more than twenty years ago, we had only visited Rockport a few times before on day trips and knew no one here. We decided we wanted to find a church to help us become part of the community. And how can you resist visiting a church with a cannonball in the bell tower?”
Rick Kasten, who serves on the Membership Committee, was reflecting at a Sunday morning worship service last month on how and why he decided to become a member of the First Congregational Church of Rockport. I listened to him in the comfort of my own home, seated in front of my laptop watching a grid of faces on Zoom. For the past two years, my home office had periodically replaced the church sanctuary as my worship venue. We’d come a long way since the days of cannonballs and the War of 1812.
“We met amazing people from various backgrounds, experiences, and generations. The members of this congregation are my friends, and they have helped Laurie and me to raise our children to be well-rounded and compassionate individuals.”
At the mention of Rick’s children, I recalled that I had joined the church about twenty-five years ago because I, too, wanted my two young kids to have some kind of Christian foundation. I, too, had church shopped for a place where my family could worship and my kids could attend church school, as I called it growing up. My son, Eric, was in preschool at the time with Craig Cardani, and his mom, Kathy Cahill, went to the First Congregational, which I soon learned was better known as The Old Sloop. She encouraged me to attend a service and the rest is history.
Like Rick’s children, Sayles and Leap, my kids, Eric and Anna, grew up in the spiritual care of a multi-generational extended family they saw every Sunday. Thinking back, they saw their church family more than they saw some of their own aunts and uncles. Their faith journeys led them through Sunday School, confirmation classes, and Mission Trips, and helped prepare them for the wider world that awaited after high school graduation.
“The heart of this congregation is worship. As a person who wakes up each morning running my workload through my head, I look forward to and enjoy the service each week where I can reflect and recenter myself. The words and music as well as the shared experience … remind me that there is more to life than you see and touch.”
I again flashed back to the days of being a young mother who also worked outside the home. During those busy years, I loved going to church, sending the kids off to Sunday School, and just sitting there in the sanctuary with my eyes closed, listening and contemplating. It was heaven.
“As a congregation, we not only worship together, we also work together to help others in need and support causes through our deeds and donations. We have special interest groups and concerts. We celebrate together when we can, and always support each other when we face challenges. As a member … I have made a commitment to support this congregation. Joining is an acknowledgment that you are committed to our congregation.”
I looked around the Zoom screen and saw the congregation nodding in agreement. Telling our stories reinforces that we are part of a community of like-minded people and shines a light on our shared histories and humanity. We are fundamentally more similar than we are different, regardless of when, where, and how we gather.