Vestry Voices: Christopher Tielens

FOR THOSE OF YOU who don’t know me, my name is Christopher Tielens, and yes, it’s okay to call me Chris. Even if you don’t know me, you’ve probably seen me from time to time assisting in the services at 8:00 or 10:30 Sunday mornings, either as an acolyte or thurifer. The extent that I’ve become involved at St. John’s rather amazes me considering that for many years of my life I did not attend church regularly. When I was small, my family was a member of an Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee; however, my parents divorced when I was 8 years old and we stopped going. For many years after, I rarely went to church. I saw church as a “family” activity and could not contemplate going alone. In 2001 I bought a house in north Mesquite. About two years later my parents moved back to Dallas, and my mother suggested we check out the Episcopal churches in the area, to try to find one we both liked. The Sunday we tried St. John’s happened to be Pentecost. I was enraptured by the beauty and solemnity of the service, and the fragrance (there was incense). It was exactly what I was hoping to find.

I had only been attending regularly for a short time when I was asked to a Dinner Groups gathering. I was very nervous about going. I worried that the parishioners I met would grill me with questions, then tell me that “perhaps St. John’s isn’t right for you.” I needn’t have worried. I was warmly welcomed, and got to know some great people. Everyone was impressed with the homemade bread I’d brought. Cooking is one of my avocations which I get to show off frequently at St. John’s events. I also enjoy gardening and travel. My vocation for more than thirty years has been making clothing in Dallas’ garment industry, now tiny compared to what it was when I entered it. Two years ago the company I work for moved me from clothing to leather goods, handbags, backpacks, etc. The change has been challenging, but I’ve come to enjoy it very much. Things do change.

We are seeing many changes now at St. John’s, some with eager anticipation, others, with concern and apprehension. All changes are opportunities to make things even better. Worship is my area of focus on St. John’s vestry. Many comment on what a beautiful worship service we have, but I know that it can be, and will be, even more beautiful. The worship service hooked me into St. John’s, but it’s the wonderful people, many who have become my good friends, that keep me coming back every week (sometimes 2 or 3 times a week). We simply need to bring a lot more wonderful people to St. John’s. And we will.

by Christopher Tielens