“I say ‘why’ a lot, you know?” It may seem odd that Jackie Orcutt, a member of St. Philip Lutheran for over 20 years, would be saying such a thing.
After moving to Myrtle Beach, Jackie, her husband, Chris, and son, Sean Michael, settled quickly into life at the beach and at St. Philip. Shortly thereafter, they welcomed a fourth family member to their family, a daughter, Sophie.
Fast forward several years, and the first “why” comes into focus. Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer. A few years later, another “why”. Sean Michael suddenly passes away. A few months after that, Chris died. “I don’t think we’ll ever understand,” Jackie says. Through it all, Jackie attended worship.
In and through these times of uncertainty, grief, and loss, the community of faith at St. Philip rallied around Jackie and Sophie with love and care. There were cards, food, gifts, prayers, and support. Not only did St. Philip support Jackie, but her faith was encouraged and strengthened. “Faith is real to me, it is more prevalent in my life,” she shared.
“St. Philip gives me the reminder every week that there is something more beyond our physical routine. There is a bigger purpose for our life. We are not alone.” Through all the “whys,” Jackie felt God’s love because of her community of faith. And even if she is sometimes in a pew by herself, she knows she is not alone. God is present through her community of faith, and she knows she is loved by them and by God.
“It’s still challenging,” Jackie reflects. “But people often inspire me without saying anything. They give me strength, and I feel part of it all.”
“That is who we are as St. Philip,” shared Pastor Jason Lee. “We care for each other, through the ‘whys,’ through feelings of being alone, through everything.”
The way that St. Philip Lutheran Church supported Jackie and Sophie is a story we hear again and again across our synod. We give thanks to all those in ELCA congregations in South Carolina living God’s redeeming and loving story every day.