Our path to St. Andrew started 12 years ago when we decided we needed a respite from the cold and dreary weather in Northern Ohio. Mel read an article in Money Magazine heralding Bradenton, FL as one of the best places to live in the country, and Bradenton is where we started and ended our search for our little piece of paradise. We bought a condo, and for four years we visited for short periods of time, as Karen was still working full time and we were caring for our parents.

We loved Florida! Being close to the ocean, golfing, walking, and that glorious sunshine that never quits! So once our family obligations were complete we moved here full time. Since we were UCC members in Ohio we began looking for a UCC church to join. It took us two years to join St. Andrew. We visited several UCC churches in the area but kept coming back to St. Andrew. Why? The people!, the message!, and the music!! Everyone was so friendly and kind and the music …well, there aren’t enough superlatives to describe Jim Cox’s music. Every Sunday we are richer of spirit after Jim hunches over the piano and laces the notes with his soul.

Which brings us to the message. Who delivers the message is often as important as the message itself, so we waited to join the church until the new pastor was hired. When we first met Rev. Phil Garrison we thought he was a very nice guy. But now that we’ve gotten to know him we appreciate his sense of humor, knowledge, compassion and insight.

Pastor Phil has often reminded us that we all experience spirituality in different ways and, for us, the most spiritual experience is the Maundy Thursday service. This service has touched us like no other service has done. The only other thing that comes close is watching the dolphins, manatees, and birds frolicking in God’s swimming pool.

Little did we know when we decided to become part timers in Florida that the path would lead us to a community where the people, the message and the music would wrap themselves around us to give us a sense of God’s presence. And we are grateful!

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