In 2001, Sharon and Edwin Thorpe were in search of an Episcopal Church with a “diverse congregation who genuinely seemed to be concerned about other members of the church and active in carrying out ministry within the community, and an atmosphere that was welcoming and loving. Calvary seemed to be a good fit.” Edwin was Catholic and Sharon was Episcopalian. They had been referred to Calvary by a friend who liked our then-associate rector, the Rev. Allen Robinson. Edwin remembers, “As he was the only black Episcopal minister at that time (in Memphis), it was a refreshing opportunity to connect with him. After meeting him, we chose him to marry us, which was truly a blessed event in so many ways.”
The couple felt Calvary was unique. Edwin says they resonated with “the mission, the people, and the vibe (that) is like no other church I’ve attended.” Sharon appreciated “the members of Calvary, the clergy, the music, the energy, and the sense of peace.” Although he had attended since 2001, Edwin waited until January of this year to be received into the Episcopal Church by the bishop. He says, “Having been raised Catholic, there was quite a struggle to reckon with making the change. However, I am very comfortable with it now.” Recently, Edwin was recruited to be an usher. After a couple of months, Usher Chair Laurence Ritter contacted Sharon to ask if she would be interested too. She said yes and now states that she “really feels a stronger connection to Calvary by participating. It’s also given me the opportunity to meet members of the church.”
Edwin recently retired after 30+ years as a member of the full-time teaching faculty in obstetrics and gynecology at UTHSC. He describes his career this way: “Because of my specialty training in infectious diseases, I was approached by the St. Jude Pediatric AIDS Clinical Trials group to collaborate with them on HIV in pregnant patients. The idea was to investigate the benefit of giving therapy to prevent transmission to the fetus. That collaboration evolved into 16+ years of clinical care and research in perinatal HIV. Needless to say, it was an extremely rewarding experience for patients, families, and me.”
Sharon is a family nurse practitioner currently working at a federally funded community health center. The population consists primarily of those who are underserved. Sharon identifies “a sense of ministry in providing care and connecting with the patients and their families during a stressful/tense period of their lives. As their healthcare provider, it is my role to help resolve whatever physically is ailing them, and provide them with resources during a time of crisis. I have a line of communication open to God while at work with my 'mini' prayers in asking for guidance.”
Sharon recently became certified to teach yoga after completing 200 hours of training. “Yoga feeds my soul. It does more than make me sweat—it peels away layers of 'stuff,' and it opens me up to the person I am. The gift of yoga, mind, body, spirit is what I love most.” She describes the process of becoming certified as one that “brought me closer to God, allowed me to stop, breathe, and listen to what He is saying.” She relishes her daily ritual of short meditation/prayer that “helps me stay present” and “give thanks for the abundance of love in my life, my health.” In addition to meditation and prayer, Sharon makes sure “to do something physical every day, to give my body what it deserves to get me through this life, especially taking an early morning walk with my dog when it’s quiet.”
The roles of parent and now grandparent are very important to both of them. Edwin says, “My children and grandchildren are special—the opportunity for me to influence them in ways that my parents did for me and my siblings is truly God’s blessing.” Sharon adds, “How gratifying it is to think about my children as toddlers and now see them today as successful, healthy adults, joyful in their lives. Spending time with family, including our four grandchildren we have together, and watching them play and laugh, fills my heart. What a blessing they are to us.”
When asked what feeds her soul, Sharon replied, “Many things: time out for play, quiet time for reflection, and nature, whether it’s enjoying the mountains or sitting on the beach in the early morning hours just listening to the waves. And lastly, but certainly not least, walking through the doors of Calvary, hearing the music, the word of God, communion with others, and the opportunity to feel the presence of God.”
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