I should start this entry by saying I grew up in a non-religious home. My father's father was Jewish, but after they came to the states, and especially after the war, he didn't really practice his faith. His wife was Lutheran before her mother's death when she was 9, but after, her father had too much else on his mind to take his three children to church every Sunday, so she grew up in what basically became a non-religious household herself, only attending a Methodist church during her schooling because it was required by the school precepts that she attend some service or other on Sundays.
So when my mother married my father, he was already non-religious, and the two of them chose to raise their children the same way, even though she had been raised in a Methodist church her whole life to that point.
It's made things both easier and more difficult for me when it comes to religion—I've had the freedom to choose, and have experienced a few different churches over the years with friends and even been to synagogue several times. In the end, I chose no religion over settling into one. Mostly because of one particular bad experience (a subject not destined for this blog), but also because I have yet to find something that really shows faith the way I see it. As something personal between me and whatever is out there guiding the universe.
In some ways, you could say that Genealogy has become my religion. It's not. Not in the traditional sense. But I'm more inclined to let thoughts of what my ancestors might have done in this situation or that guide me in making my own choices, or helping me understand those choices better. Not that much different from how a traditional religion might guide one, after all.
But because of the above, I've never really felt the community of church. I didn't miss it, because I never had it, but stuff like the below transcripts surprises me because I just never think about the small bits that make up a church the way that someone who attended one all their life might.
I didn't even know this transcript existed until I received a copy from one of my mother's cousins. It was written to my great-great grandparents shortly before they left for Canada.
Presented by the Church, the congregation, and the Methodist community of PENUEL, Penrhiwceiber, South Wales.
Dear Brother and Friend.
We were very sorry to hear that you and your family are leaving us and going to Canada, and it would not be worthy of us as a church and congregation if we did not show some recognition of our affection and love towards you.
It is with satisfaction and joy that we present you with this testimonial as an expression of our gratitude for your hard work and excellent efforts in all religious areas.
We can at least express our opinion of you as a man of wisdom with a pleasant personality. We always found you true and honest in all your activities. We feel that you have outstanding ability as a Sunday School teacher in teaching the scriptures, and we can assure you, that those whom you taught have happy memories of your skill and dedication in revealing the beauty of the scriptures to them.
You carried out your work as superintendent of the Sunday School with faultfullness and regularity.
We would also like to acknowledge your work as treasurer and advisor to the Sunday School.
The fact that you have carried out these duties with distinction is proof that you are prepared to give your all in the teachings of the Lord.
We hope that you will not just be content with attaining this position, as doubtless you will carry on as we know there will be plenty, if not more service, needed in Canada than in the country you are about to leave.
Our wish is, in presenting you with this testimonial, and a hymn book to your wife and children, that you will enjoy many years of service, and that the light of heaven will shine upon you.
Therefore, dear brother, be sure and steadfast, and ever abundant with the Works of the Lord, and you will know that your efforts will not be in vain.
ON BEHALF OF THE COMMITTEE
Thos. J Edwards -- Minister (Preacher)
Ebenezer Morgan -- Chairman
David Davies -- Treasurer
Ebenezer Pughe -- Secretary
Penrhiwceiber March 1892