This is a post written by Kevin Sharpe, Pastor of Westbrook. Dated 3/2016:
I love being a pastor and being present with people in their most important times in life. Whether that’s the joy of a marriage, a birth of a child or in the grief of losing someone close to them. But last week I had a unique experience. I got to be present when one of our members became a
U.S. citizen. I wasn’t prepared for the moving experience of seeing 132 people from 40 countries take an oath to their new country. It was inspiring. The judge started off by saying that he loved to do this ceremony because, usually when he is done with his work, one side or the other is mad at him, but when he presides over the citizenship ceremony, everyone is happy with him.
There was the oath that each citizen had to take, a video message from President Obama and then a stirring speech from the judge about his grandmother. She was a five year-old little girl when sh
e emigrated from Croatia to Ellis Island in New York City and then took a train with her mother to Chisholm, MN. Her dad had moved to Chisholm five years earlier to work in the mines and save enough money to send for the rest of the family. The little girl’s family was so poor they didn’t have any money to buy food during the three-day train ride to Minnesota. But some kind German men on the train gave his grandma a slice of apple. Nothing ever tasted so good to that little girl. The judge went on to say how this commu
nity embraced the immigrants and they developed a strong community that supported and loved each other. Then he challenged these new citizens to get involved in their communities and do the same for each other, because America has always been a land of immigrants that come together to make a stronger nation.
All that said, the best part for me was seeing our friend Bertha become an American Citizen. She has been a faithful partner in this church from the beginning and to celebrate with her on this occasion was a very special time. After all the time and work it took her to get to this point, she was very proud of her citizenship. In Romans it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” This time it was very easy to follow that verse!