Six Degrees of First Church

Lisa Helm“I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet. The President of the United States, a gondolier in Venice, just fill in the names. I find it extremely comforting that we’re so close. I also find it like Chinese water torture, that we’re so close because you have to find the right six people to make the right connection . . . I am bound, you are bound, to everyone on this planet by a trail of six people.”                                                            

— Ouisa Kittredge in “Six Degrees of Separation”

I’m always amazed at how often through a “friend of a friend” we find we’re somehow connected to someone. Six degrees of separation is the theory that, essentially, a maximum of six steps is all it takes to connect any two people. One of the best parts of my job is getting to know and love the people of this church. But I’m constantly amazed at the connections I’ve made — and continue to make — with people who fall into that “friend of a friend” category.

Recently, I attended a funeral in San Angelo (my hometown) and met Louellen Meyer. She was the organist at the service and when I mentioned where I work, she gushed, “Oh my! You have that beautiful new Garland pipe organ!” She knew all about our fabulous Anne and Hank Paup Sanctuary Pipe Organ and our beautiful Gothic church. I knew Robert Stovall, our new Director of Music & Worship Arts, had San Angelo ties (I knew I loved Robert when I found out he was a good ol’ West Texas boy!) and when I mentioned his name, she exclaimed, “You guys are so lucky to have him — he’s wonderful! Your congregation is in for a treat. I’ve known Robert forever; we grew up together in Fort Stockton!”

On the drive back home, I thought about all of the many wonderful new friends I’ve made here, and how so many of them are connected to old friends or family members. Pam and Bob Leibrock spent many years in Midland before they moved to Fort Worth. Bob is one of the guys whose friendly face you see in our parking lots each and every Sunday. A casual conversation with him revealed that when my nephew, Craig, married Kate, a Midland girl, several years ago, Pam and Bob were at the wedding — turns out they’re friends with Kate’s parents. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know Haley Manulik and Amber Robertson — who also know Kate because they grew up together in Midland. And, just like Robert, they’re all “Good ol’ West Texans!”

Kathleen and Tommy Potter recently joined FUMCFW and I discovered that not only were they good friends with the Leibrocks when they were all in Midland together, but their daughter-in-law, Shelly, was my daughters’ tap teacher when they took dance in high school. Miss Shelly holds a special place in my heart as well as my daughters’, so imagine how wonderful it was to realize she is in fact related to this delightful couple I have enjoyed getting to know.

Our ushers are an amazing, dedicated group and I have enjoyed getting to know all of them. I realized recently that Kelly Richmond, who is the co-leader with Pat Wall for the 11:00 am Balcony ushers, is good friends with Jeanne Jones, a close family friend I have known since I was newly married and living in Fort Worth. Turns out Jeanne’s and Kelly’s daughters grew up together and they’ve been friends for years. My husband, Tommy, is an avid golfer and several years ago traveled with Chris Loftis to play in a tournament. I remembered his name because Tommy was so impressed with Chris that he mentioned it to me. When I met Monna Loftis, who graciously offers her time to usher at the 11:00 am service each week, I knew exactly why Tommy was so impressed with Chris — apples don’t fall far from trees — and getting to know Monna, it’s no surprise her son is such a great guy.

I could go on and on because it is such a thrill for me to get to know the members of this church and realize the connections I share with so many of them beyond these walls. And I think it just illustrates why I am so passionate about making sure we take time to visit with people between services each Sunday. So, if you haven’t yet made it part of your routine, I urge you to stop by Connections in the Garden and Wesley Hall on Sunday to discover how you connect with the “Six Degrees of First Church!”

See you Sunday!

Lisa Helm
Director of Welcoming Ministries

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