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Why do I choose St James’?

Sylvia Ma

I have been attending St James’ Episcopal Church on and off for over 38 years. What led me to St James’?  What led me to the Episcopal Church? What led me to God?

The answers went way back to my kindergarten years. My parents enrolled me in St Stephen’s Girls School, a parochial school associated with the Anglican denomination in Hong Kong. Throughout kindergarten, primary school, junior and high schools, we sang hymns and had morning service every school days and teachers told us about God and Jesus, their mighty works and their love for us. In junior high, I started going to Sunday services in a Cantonese Anglican Church, St Stephen’s Church, with a friend. I was baptized and confirmed when I was fifteen.

In 1968, my parents and I immigrated to the United States and settled in Davis CA. My Dad told me, in the U.S., the Episcopal Church follows the Anglican tradition, leading me to attend St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and started to worship in English. The liturgy there was familiar, and I felt at home. I served as an acolyte and taught Sunday School.

After college, my husband and I moved to Anaheim, CA. From the yellow pages, I found an Episcopal Church and attended there for more than one year. My experience there was a bit disappointing; not a soul spoke to me that whole time.  Then work took us to San Jose. I attended an Episcopal Church close to where we lived. I served on the Altar Guild there.

When we moved to Fremont in the early 80s, I found St James’ in the phone book. My first day at St James’ was Father BB Lyon’s last day as a rector. I remembered watching Barbara Lyon dancing in the aisles during the service. I loved St James’s diversity, even back then.

The liturgy was familiar, and the parishioners were friendly, and I joined the Altar Guild. Over the years, I got more involved and served on the Endowment Board, the Ushers, the Vestry, and more recently the McCutcheon Concert Team, and the Little Church Renovation Committee, teaching Tai Chi and again serve on the Vestry. I learned much from the Lenten Series and other Faith Formation classes. I enjoyed my participation at the Women’s Retreat and the Ladies Flatlanders.

The arrival of Rev. Lori brought a fresh perspective to St James’ and I look forward to her sermons. The arrival of Rev. Anna brought the Adult Faith Formation to the next level and I am very glad that I have more time to attend her classes after my retirement. Although I don’t have a decent singing voice, I love music. The music every Sunday, under the direction of Jennifer, energizes me.

I feel the workings of the Holy Spirit in the inclusiveness of St James’ and in the policy of open communion. I see vitality of the congregation with the influx of new families with young children. There are a lot of opportunities to serve God here at St. James’ and I am grateful to be a part of the St James’ family.

~Sylvia Ma