by Margo Vuicich
I wasn’t raised in the Episcopal church although my grandparents, Cecil and Margo Farrar, were members of St. Paul’s and my father, Cess Farrar, was as well until he met my mother, Jean Williamson. They were married in the Methodist Church in 1954 and held their reception in the St. Paul’s Parish Hall.
As a family, we attended the Methodist church and I always assumed everyone went to Church, said prayers at meals and before bed, went to Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Youth Group and that their parents served in various ways. There was never any question that Jesus loved us and that God was in heaven, loving and watching us and that we should behave accordingly. It was easy to have faith.
In the middle of my 9th grade year, we moved to Sarasota and everything changed. We still went to church and my parents were still involved but I had lost my church family. And then, in my senior year, my friend Tracy died suddenly from spinal meningitis. We were laughing one day, and she was in a coma the next. We were not allowed to go to see her but were told her family and priest (they were Episcopalians) were laying hands on her so surely she would be okay. She passed away the next day. The easy days of believing in God were gone. And then, I went to college. No church, no faith family. God was still in heaven and I prayed every night but that was the extent of it.
After college, I moved back to South Florida and attended a few different churches still trying to reconnect with the faith I had as a child but once again, felt very alone in my quest. My father was diagnosed with ALS and passed away when I was 26. I attended Unity and volunteered in the community with Horses of the Handicap and as a Big Sister. For many years, my life looked perfect from the outside but as my mother told me years later, when she hugged me it was as if I wasn’t there. Fortunately, God always was. And when He thought the time was right, he brought Tommy into my life in the summer of 1993.
Tommy was raised in the Episcopal faith attending St. Paul’s School and St Paul’s Church in Baltimore, MD. So, after he proposed, we received our pre marriage counseling at St. Paul’s Delray. We were married on the lawn of his mother’s childhood home by a priest from St. Paul’s Centreville, MD. Obviously, God had already decided that a St. Paul’s church would be our church home!
For 23 years, we have grown in our faith surrounded by our St. Paul’s family. We were attendees at first, simply worshiping but after being nudged by God and “tapped” by others to usher, greet, host dinner mixers, attend Bible study, serve on Vestry, volunteer at Paul’s Place and Family Promise, cook for Caring Kitchen, pack and serve food, etc., God was easing us into our calling to host annual dinners and other hospitality events. Joining with other members on a pilgrimage to Italy was one of many turning points in our faith journey. The amazing love and care that was given to us when my mother was killed in a car crash in 2009 made me understand how God wraps His arms around us through our brothers and sisters of faith.
After that, God sent me on a journey with others through EFM and I became a Lay Eucharistic Visitor, had the opportunity to teach Godly Play for a couple years and even sang in the summer choir. Tommy and I were called to join with others at St. Paul’s to help rebuild a home in New Orleans after Katrina. The opportunities to learn from and serve with other members of our STP family have been endless.
The past three years as I served on Vestry again and as Senior Warden for two years, I learned so much more about St. Paul’s and what a truly transforming and holy place it is. We don’t need to be in a church building to love and worship our Lord, but what a wonderful blessing to have this place as our home, open to anyone who walks in, nurturing to anyone who chooses to stay, with clergy, staff and other members who support us in our joys and in our sorrows, in our seeking and in our growth. Tommy and I feel blessed everyday to call St. Paul’s our home and each of you, our family.
Note: In 1975, the Farrar’s wrote and published, From Sapling to Sturdy Oak, a history of St. Paul’s from 1904-1974.