This column is a testimony.

It is a witness to the power of community, to the strength and support my congregation and this village have given to my family during these last few weeks. You see, the front page story, Miscarriage of Justice, in last week’s Review was about my step-daughter, Amy.

It has been a difficult, draining time for us, but when we called for help, many people heard
us and really came through.
Mrs. Trotter and Theresa Giglio at Grant-White School wrote
letters and made phone calls on Amy’s behalf. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Randolph Tinder, gave us a hearing, and went into action for us. Sifica Cubic, the landlord of Amy’s apartment building, wrote a letter and made phone calls.

The Review, when it realized it had not gotten all the facts, acknowledged that it had fallen short of its own standards and made a big effort to tell the whole story. When we shared our situation with our congregation, there were many hugs and words of encouragement.

All of those good things happened because we were a part of community.

When we called for help, people recognized our voices, believed our story and had the compassion to help. The truth is that just because you live in Forest Park doesn’t mean that you are a part of the community. It was because one member of my family or the other had attended PTO meetings, wrapped hot dogs at the all school picnic, sung songs for the Grant-White kindergarten, sold those goofy green plastic hats at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, hosted coffee hours at our church, helped staff the ticket booth at Summer Fest, came to church most every Sunday, gave rides to
school to kids in the neighborhood, brought dishes to
church pot lucks, patronized stores in Forest, etc., etc.
    
In other words, becoming part of community takes time. That’s because it’s basically a web of relationships, and you don’t fall into good relationships. You build them.
   
My family and I didn’t know exactly what we were doing when we got involved in all of those things. We did them, because we wanted to. But going through this trying time made us appreciate how precious community is.
   
 People responded with hugs, prayers and action. Following are quotes from two very different people about the importance of community.
    
The first series is from Wisdom Distilled From The Daily by Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun:

“Love costs. Love makes demands. We have learned a great deal about the ‘Self’ since Freud, but we may not have learned nearly so much about the ‘We.’ It’s surely time to ask when and where individual responsibility for the common good will again begin to play a part in personal life.”

The second series is from an evangelical pastor named Rick Warren, the author of The Purpose Driven Life.

“Love cannot be learned in isolation. You have to be around people”irritating, imperfect, frustrating people. The best way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Cultivating community takes honesty, humility, courtesy. . . and frequency. Maturity is living with the tension [between the ideal and the real].”

John Rice wrote an impassioned plea for community in his column a few weeks ago.

This column is a testimony that what he was talking about is real. My family has been blessed by being part of a family, a congregation and a village. The return on our investment has been”priceless.