Emmanuel has been a part of my family for generations. I like that my family has this history. It is unique in a university town like this where people move here and move away that a family would stay so long and remain a part of this community for over ninety years. I am reminded of this when I see the quilt that hangs in the parish hall with the signatures of my parents, my aunts, my godmother, and my grandparents. To me, Emmanuel is family and community.
My great-grandparents, Glad and Helen Thomas, joined Emmanuel in about 1925 just after they were married. In fact, the corridor ambulatory right outside was donated in memory of Carol Thomas Brigham, their daughter who passed away from cancer. Back when Carol was married in this church, my great-grandparents realized that when it rains or the weather is bad, the bride and wedding party still have to go outside to enter the church from the back. This thought was the inspiration in donating the ambulatory. I’m thinking the choir and acolytes might appreciate this too.
My grandfather, Lott Thomas, grew up in this church. He was baptized here and acolyted for many years. He was even a choir boy. (That in itself is funny if you know him.) He said back at that time the choir rehearsed on a stage that was built as part of the parish hall. My grandfather also served on the vestry a couple of times and served as the Parish Warden under Father Mowry. Many people have referred to the back pew on the left as Lott Thomas’s pew. He has sat in that pew almost every Sunday for decades.
My mom, Kristin Thomas Feddersen, and her sisters were baptized at Emmanuel and grew up here. They were all also married in this church. My mom tells stories of participating in the Christmas Eve pageant growing up and being assigned the role of an angel - every year. At that time the pageant was a silent crèche – where the participants had to hold still for the singing of all the verses of “Silent Night”. My mom says no song is as long as “Silent Night” when you have to hold your arms over your head as an angel for all those verses. She also fondly remembers the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper and Mardi Gras Carnival – where all the classrooms in the education building had different carnival games and prizes.
I was baptized here too, as were my sister and my cousins. Like my mom, I was in the Christmas pageant for years – usually as a narrator since it was no longer a silent crèche. When my mom said I should become an acolyte, I decided I wanted to usher instead. I was in seventh grade, but all the ushers were adults so I had to get permission. I remember getting up the nerve to ask Mr. Kobel if I could usher. (And yes, when I started ushering I was actually shorter than my usher partner, Lori Dobrik.)
There is so much about the Emmanuel community that I like. I like that my school friends go to church here. I like that I can run into my grandfather at church on Sundays. I realize as I am headed off to college at Michigan that I am going to miss all this next year. The thought of finding a new church is a bit scary. I realize that basically, Emmanuel is like a family to me – and I am going to miss it.
Centennial High School, Class of 2016
University of Michigan, Class of 2020