I AM PALMER
I am Palmer is a series of articles written by parishioners at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church about their experiences in the time of COVID-19. In this series, we are hearing from medical professionals, educators, students, public health experts, parents of school-age children and others who are finding ways to cope and thrive in our challenging times.
I am a member of Palmer’s Outreach Council and my husband Fritz serves on the Palmer Finance Committee. When he and I returned to Houston in December 2014, after living in Washington state, we were unsure what was in our future. We had both had busy, varied, and demanding lives, including operating a large commercial apple and pear orchard for 26 years.
We became members of Palmer in early January and greatly appreciated the warm welcome by so many people in the congregation. We have attended many meetings on Sundays and Wednesday evenings. We are active in Dinner & Discussion events each month. Fritz, in addition to serving on the Finance Committee, attends Wednesday Bible Study.
In keeping with my past professional and volunteer history, I joined Palmer’s Outreach Council and coordinated campaigns for school supplies for Star of Hope. I became a board member at Family Houston and teach a computer class at The Women’s Home.
Although I had never been very active in any electoral process, the 2016 general election presented a new opportunity. I learned that becoming a Volunteer Deputy Voter Registrar in Harris County was fairly easy and allowed for a flexible schedule.
That role has given me a superb chance to re-engage with the multi-faceted life of Houston, which makes our city an exciting place to live. I have had the privilege of registering new voters of many ages and ethnicities at a variety of venues, including a public library, Rice University, and new citizen naturalization ceremonies. Those ceremonies, I confess, are my favorite. Until COVID-19 required a pause, every month I was among the volunteers who helped register up to 2,600 new citizens from more than 120 countries.
We read in Hebrews 13:1-2: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” I believe that I have been fortunate to meet many earthly angels among those new citizens. To see my fellow citizens – many of whom had waited up to 10 years – all saying the Pledge of Allegiance in unison, has been one of the best experiences over the past four years and perhaps of my whole life.
During this challenging time, my hope is that all citizens take advantage of this country’s gifts and use the freedoms we all cherish. Among the reasons I greatly respect the Episcopal Church is its advocacy for each of us to welcome strangers and “To know and share the love of Jesus Christ,” as Palmer’s Mission Statement makes clear.
In his book published earlier this year: Citizen: Faithful Discipleship in a Partisan World, Bishop Andy Doyle says, “The future of our nation is dependent upon us and our cooperative and imaginative engagement.” I agree.