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Joan LaRose

Joan LaRose: Why Advent?

Just last June, Tom and I visited Advent as newcomers to the area looking for a church home. When we left our long-time home in Arizona, we knew we’d be stepping out of our comfort zone and embarking on a new adventure. We knew few people here – my niece and nephew in Aurora and old friends who had moved to Westminster from Arizona years ago. We had been involved in our last church and enjoyed many friendships there, so finding a new church home was important.

I Googled Lutheran churches near me, and two churches showed up the same distance away: Advent in Westminster and St. Andrew in Arvada. Although we technically live in Westminster, we are surrounded by Arvada and have found that many places in Arvada are closer than places in Westminster. However, I had met Dana Harper, a former member of Advent, right before we left Arizona and when she heard we were moving to Westminster, she had recommended it to us and spoke highly of Pastor Barb. So, we came to Advent first and never did make it to St. Andrew.

We were warmly greeted at the front door and directed to put on name tags. We were pleasantly surprised to see everyone, young and old, also putting on name tags. What a help that was when Fred and JoAnne Bantin warmly said hello as we sat in the pew ahead of them. Upon learning we were new to the area, they immediately befriended us. After the service, they insisted we join the potluck that was being held in the basement after the service. Excited (or desperate?) to meet people, we accepted their invitation. Plus, who turns down a free meal? Again, the name tags were greatly appreciated as we shook hands and conversed with members at the potluck. Can I just say how much I like the name tags and how it helps newcomers put names to faces? Before we left, we promised to return soon.

Both Pastor Barb and Vicar Rich contacted us, and we appreciated the time they took to welcome us to the area and answer any questions about Advent and the area. They encouraged us to find activities at Advent and get involved. Tom was soon helping the Men’s group cook hamburgers for the July Community Dinner. Then we hosted the VBS Rainbow Trail counselors, joined a crew on the “Our Hand’s God’s Work” project day and enjoyed a couple outings with the ADVENTurer’s group as well as continued to attend Sunday worship. Within just a few months, we felt like we had gained many new friends and were putting down roots. I was so excited when George Boyle said hi to me at King Sooper’s one day and I could tell Tom I actually saw someone I recognized at the store.

But how did I realize that we were finally home at Advent? When we returned from a three-week trip to Arizona and California to visit family and friends, I was greeted by Pam Hammer with a warm hug and the words “You were missed.”

We may still be the new kids on the block, but we are now part of the neighborhood. Thank you for making us feel welcome!

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