To the East by Winding Paths

Carrie and Chris Thompson have been raising their three daughters in a church in which they themselves were not raised, but which they chose together. 

“I was looking for something deeper, something that would draw me in,” says Chris, who was raised Roman Catholic.

Then he met Carrie, a nondenominational Christian. As their relationship moved toward marriage, she wanted to help him on his spiritual search. 

He brought her to a few Orthodox churches he had visited and was considering. Then, she remembered a similar church her childhood friend’s grandmother would take them to regularly as kids: St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Oak Lawn, Illinois. They went to Oak Lawn, only to find the church had been boarded up.

A short time later, a friend encouraged her to check out “an Eastern-style church” she would drive past in Homer Glen, in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. 

“We fell in love with the beauty,” Chris recalls of their first Sunday at Annunciation Byzantine Catholic Church. “We felt we were home probably 30 seconds into the homily. We both looked at each other and were like, this is where we want to be.”

Carrie was baptized at Annunciation. The couple married there shortly after. Their daughters were baptized there, too. 

These days, Carrie is the church secretary and the couple is involved in various volunteer programs at the parish, including marriage ministry. One of their daughters is off to college.

Incidentally, at the coffee social after church that first Sunday, someone called out to Carrie from across the room. It was her childhood friend’s grandmother, Sylvia. The old church in Oak Lawn had merged with another to form Annunciation parish, she explained. Sylvia became Carrie’s godmother.

“It was like a homecoming,” says Carrie. “When we look back at our story, God worked that path. He started planting those seeds when I was a little girl. I felt like this is where we were meant to be together.”

Read more about others who have set down spiritual roots in the Eastern churches in “A Place to Call Home” in our September 2022 issue of ONE.  

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