Bob Peiser: The Significance of Presence

I was raised by Jewish parents in New York. My experience growing up was one of a strong relationship with God, but no real institutional way to express it. So, it was a relationship that didn’t have any place to go. As I got older I felt the need to be part of a community that shared those values, and not just be by myself. I’ve been really close to God for a long, long time. I’ve had a very strong faith for a very long time. However, over the last few years I found I wanted more than just having a private conversation with God.

While I’ve been going to Methodist churches for about ten years, my wife and I started coming to Chapelwood pretty regularly last September. She had heard about it, and that’s why we originally came. What I like about the Methodist church is that here it’s all about the music, it’s all about the sermon, and it’s all about the community. I’ve always been attracted to Methodist services because of that.

Chapelwood is a very inclusive community. We’ve met a number of people here and they’re all very welcoming. We felt like a part of it right away. I’ve got to give kudos to the ministry here. John is a wonderful pastor and we very much enjoy his sermons and I enjoy the conversations I’ve had privately with him. I’ve gotten to know a number of the other pastors here including Tammy Heinrich, who has just been wonderful to me and to my wife Nancy. It’s just been overall a very good experience.

I think God has shaped my life for a very long time. I’ve felt that forever. I feel very strongly that I am who I am because of Him. And if you asked me what’s changed, I probably talk to Him more than I’ve done in the past. He’s a big part of my day now, in the past it might have been a once a day thing, but now it’s a pretty constant thing.

I was baptized recently. Coming into it, I was a little embarrassed to do that in front of the whole congregation. As it turns out, it was both a very personal moment and a very moving moment. But to be able to share it with everybody that was in the church and to have so many people greet Nancy and me and welcome us to the church was wonderful. Afterward, several adults came up to me and said, “I first got baptized six years ago,” “I first got baptized eight years ago, congratulations.” I wish I could repeat it; it was a great combination of being very personal and yet sharing with the whole community.

I’ve been attending two Bible classes a week. I’m here to help contribute to Chapelwood, but the education and the knowledge that I’m getting about scriptures which I have never had before is a big part of my experience. More than that, Chapelwood is a place that welcomes us where I can come and commune with God and be reflective. 

Joining Chapelwood makes me feel better about my relationship with God; it makes me feel that I’m part of a community that shares those values. Community is important to every person, and to be with people who share your values is a very important part of life.