July 20, 2021 // 12:56 PM

Serving and Living in Community – Part 2

Written by Juanita Fox

SaraJane Munshower, a Garden Spot Village resident since May 2019, served for five weeks at Fishers Island Union Chapel on Fishers Island New York in early summer 2021. This blog captures her reflections on the five weeks she spent on the island ministering to the congregation. A previous blog shared her hopes for the summer.

“It was very satisfying, in a professional sense, to use my ministry gifts and to realize how easily I can step back into the process,” reflects SaraJane Munshower. She arrived on Fishers Island on Thursday, June 3 and immediately felt at home.

During her time on the island, SaraJane lived in Union Chapel’s parsonage, a small island-style home with large windows and wood shake siding. Recently vacated, the home was sparsely furnished, but the congregation and community blessed her with gifts of furniture. SaraJane also enjoyed decorating, adding her own special touch with three pieces of art from the church thrift shop.

She also hung a hand painted sign that said “peace” on the trellis in the parsonage’s flower garden. SaraJane purchased the sign from a neighbor at Garden Spot Village and carried it to Fishers Island in an effort to leave a bit of our community there.

She was thankful for the personal space where she could rest, write and reflect on the task of teaching the congregation.

“The church offered a setting with need, but not intense challenge,” SaraJane explains. “The congregation’s only expectation of me was meaningful Sunday worship for the five Sundays I was on the island. I also opened the parsonage three Wednesday evenings for community conversation.”

Holding the service outside in a tent allowed for more creativity and informal worship. She relied on the congregation to set up chairs each Sunday and to bring flowers for the altar. “It was a community effort to prepare for Sunday morning. I didn’t need to worry about preparing the space for worship. We were gifts to each other,” she says.

For SaraJane it was refreshing to be in a place with a simpler way of life. “I was living in the rhythm of the sun and the daylight—waking with the sun and going to bed when it was dark. There is something about the island that invites you to do that,” she explains.

She enjoyed long walks with friends she made on the island and with friends who came to visit. 

As she returned to Garden Spot Village, SaraJane reflected, “Living on an island is not so different than living in a community like Garden Spot Village. There is a mix of isolation from the outside world, but also a deep social connection with those around me.”