Stewardship - Our Love for God

Posted on by Tara Peyton Burgess

Stewardship Month: October 17th 2021 - Tara Peyton-Burgess


          Good morning! My name is Tara Peyton-Burgess.

I was so excited when Howard Pugh called and asked me if I’d share my

story about what brought me to St. Mark’s. I have shared my love of this

church with my family and many friends, and I am grateful to be

standing here to share it with each of you.


When we moved to the Museum District five years ago, one of my

priorities was to find an Episcopal church to attend. My family and I

were members of Christ and Grace Episcopal Church in Petersburg for

20 years. While it was difficult to change our membership, my mission

was to find a church close to our new home.


The first service I attended was at an Episcopal church where the

Rector of Christ and Grace had been a former Assistant Rector. This

church had a very large congregation, and I just felt lost. I knew I’d have

to seek out small group activities to become a part of things. While the

church itself and the music were beautiful, I didn’t feel it was a good fit.

The following Sunday I decided to attend St. Mark’s. I remember it

being a beautiful morning, so I walked from our house. As I made my

way through the parking lot, at least 5 people greeted me, before I’d

even stepped through the front doors. Upon entering, I observed lots of

conversation amongst the parishioners, which was something I was not

accustomed to seeing take place prior to the service. I loved seeing this

interaction and witnessed it again during the 5 minute Peace.

Something that was definitely a first for me!


As I sat down before the service began, I started reading the mission

statement “Love is Our Tradition” that was printed on the front of the



Three of the parts aligned with most church’s beliefs:

To love God

To serve the community and

to love your faith.

It was the fourth one that jumped out at me:

Our love for God compels us to love and welcome others with open

arms ----- regardless of age, ethnicity, sexual orientation or social



As I read these words, I knew God had led me to the right place.

Growing up in many different churches, I had never seen the words

actually written in a bulletin of how Jesus wants us to treat one

another. I was ELATED!


I continue to share my joy of being a member of St. Mark’s with my

friends and family. I’ve posted my feelings several times on Facebook. I

scrolled back yesterday and found a post from August of 2017. I had

made a collage with a photo of the church’s steeple, our flag which

states, “Love is Our Tradition”, a photo of two children of different

races loving one another and the fourth part of our mission statement

that I read earlier.


These are the hash tags that were under my collage:

#lovenothate #weareallGodschildren #loveourchurch

#keepingthefaithinhumanity #beautifulviewonmywalk


I am so blessed to be a member of Saint Mark’s. How awesome is it to

attend a church that loves and accepts EVERYONE. Thank you for

listening to my story. May God bless each of you.