Ministry Moment: Pam Turos

For Trinity Cathedral 2018 For All We Do! stewardship campaign logo

Photo: Pam TurosPam Turos

Growing up in a progressive church community on the campus of Youngstown State University, I thought all religious upbringings were like my own, complete with tall stained-glass windows and a beautiful historic building, strong female leaders, collaborations with the neighboring art museum and families marching together to help end hunger or promote peace.

After college graduation, I moved to Cleveland and visited at least a dozen churches of every denomination. I longed for a church that felt like home – one that would comfort and challenge me, capturing the mix of faith in action and inclusive community that I had growing up. When I couldn’t find all of those things in one place, I stopped looking.

Then I became a mother, and I joined a church just so that my sons could be baptized, but I still felt spiritually homeless. I wanted a church where my children would be accepted for whoever they turned out to be and where diversity of all kinds was celebrated. I wanted my daughter to see women at the pulpit. I wanted my children to know that not all marriages are just like their parents’ and that church is a safe place to go when you’re struggling. I wasn’t willing to let anyone teach my children about God until I was truly confident about what they would be learning.

It’s probably not a coincidence that I also struggled with depression and anxiety during that phase of my life. I stepped away from many of the work and volunteer commitments that overwhelmed me, only to find that the less I did, the worse I felt.  During one particularly low point, I read the book, Take This Bread by Sara Miles. The central theme of the book is an open communion, where anyone and everyone are welcome at the table, leading the author (an atheist) to unexpectedly find God in her liberal California community.

Something in that book led me to find the Trinity Cathedral website. I listened to Tracey’s sermons and the Dean’s Forum podcasts for months before walking into Trinity Commons for the first time. I can still remember the sense of joyful affirmation I felt when I showed up for the 9 o’clock service and all the children crowded around to bless the bread and wine, followed by singing and dancing with Tracey, Will and Sarah. That was when I knew I was home.

Today, the spirit of Trinity Cathedral is woven into all that is good in my life. I met countless women who are successfully juggling careers, family, self care, spirituality and service – and I started to believe that I could do the same. With Greater Cleveland Congregations, I marched to the steps of [Cleveland’s] city hall after Tamir Rice was killed, and three years later, my new career would provide the opportunity to hug his mother in person and talk with her about that experience. When protests erupted in response to police brutality in my own community, I was part of the conversation, sharing what I learned here and helping to coordinate a peaceful action with Euclid’s city leadership and faith community. None of those things would have happened without Trinity.

While you won’t often see my sons here on a Sunday morning, the impact of Trinity Cathedral is extended to our home when they play soccer or share a meal with our friends Rwigema, Emile, Toto, Charmonte and Alivera, who survived the the Rwandan genocide and came to Cleveland after spending 17 years in a refugee camp.  My children know what their friends have lived through, and they have witnessed faith, courage and compassion through this volunteer opportunity that Trinity gave us.

Like many people, it wasn’t immediately clear to me that I was the right person to stand up and give testimony about “All We Do!” at Trinity, especially during this season of transition when I have often felt unsettled and disconnected. But when I sat down to contemplate all the gifts I have received over the last several years, it became a welcome spiritual exercise – and it was hard to stop thinking of all the ways this community has blessed my life.

 

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Pam Turos has been an active Trinity member for over two years. She “found” Trinity after an extensive, multi-year search. Pam recounts movingly how Trinity’s ministries, especially our social advocacy and community outreach programs, have provided spiritual and unexpected other opportunities for her and her family. Even during this time of transition, Pam tells how being part of Trinity has blessed her with many unique gifts. Read her testimony that she gave on Sunday, October 22 on behalf of our 2018 “For All We Do!” stewardship campaign below.