Stories: Renewing All Things

Some people might call Heather McAnear a board game nerd. And Heather would definitely call herself one.

So, when she attended her first Church of the Cross neighborhood group last August and people started throwing around references to games like 7 Wonders, Catan, and Ticket to Ride, Heather was really stoked. As a new Austinite, discovering a group of people who share her interests meant a lot — especially since Heather had just spent 14 years rooted in a Waco community.

By living life together with people in her neighborhood group — playing games, praying for each other, sharing meals — Heather found support during her journey of settling into Austin and learning about Anglicanism, a different church experience than her background.

“It’s been really great to have a small group of people to talk through questions and share faith experiences,” she said.

And when gathering on Sunday with these friends and others at COTC, Heather gets to participate in something she loves even more than board games: Communion.

“I’m still trying to sort out in my own heart why I love this so much,” she said. “I think it’s this idea that Communion is not this ritual that we have to do but it’s a gift of the Lord to help remind us, center us, focus us — to bring us back to the entire point of everything that we believe. Christ our Savior, provided by God. And that really is a gift of the Lord.”

The reminder, along with daily readings and prayers, helps Heather incorporate her faith into every part of life. Working for an adoption agency, she clearly sees opportunities to embody COTC’s four values that speak to the church living the life of God for the good of the world.  

“Transformation in the whole of life, participation in the renewal of all things — those are such a big part of what I do with adoption,” she explained, referencing two. “I love all these values; they represent me and what I want to do in my life.”

Recently, Heather wrote a prayer for orphans that the church could pray on a Sunday morning. This addition to the “Prayers of the People” time in the service was among others that month sourced from COTC members with expertise in and passion for specific areas. Heather says the prayer was difficult to write because the need is so big, but the church’s deep desire to bless children, women and families in Austin guided her.

Looking forward, she hopes COTC can continue to empower its members to serve the neighborhood and society in ways they are passionate about. She appreciated a survey that went out in November collecting information on this type of engagement that will help the church participate even more.  

“I see COTC wanting to look at what is going on in our community, asking, ‘How can we support the good things?’ and ‘How do we bring change to areas that need improvement?’” Heather said.

Heather poses at a favorite local restaurant.

Heather poses at a favorite local restaurant.

Church of the Cross