Faith Featured

This is the Church. This is the Steeple

Written by Sue Harrison

When I was six years old, my mother  sat me down for one of those I-need-to-tell-you-something conversations. In my experience, these conversations were usually about my younger brother Bob, perhaps a discussion about the reason he needed a time out or a “serious-talking-to” by my dad. I loved these mom and daughter moments. They  fed my ego. Being a big sister to a mischievous little boy had distinct advantages.

This time, though, our discussion wasn’t about some behavior modification expected from my brother. I was the one who needed to make a change. My mother informed me, gently, that I had been mispronouncing a word. It was church, not turch, and she and my father had decided that I was old enough to say it correctly.

“Church?” I said. “It can’t be church. Everybody says turch.”

“No, Sue Ann,” my mother told me (with a great deal of patience), “only you say turch.” I was indignant. Surely my mother was wrong. To prove my point, I embarked upon an active campaign to survey my friends in the neighborhood. To my great consternation, I discovered that my mother was right. Even my little brother said church, sort of.



It wasn’t easy, but eventually I broke the habit of saying turch and embraced church. Actually, I’ve embraced church ever since, the church as a body of believers — the church as a place for prayer and for worship and for fellowship. A place for comfort.

I am, however, very aware that some people, for a variety of reasons, are not at all comfortable in a church setting. Here’s the great news. Church attendance is not mandatory for believers. As a matter of fact, there’s a large group of people out there who fall into the category of “non-attending believer.” They believe, but they find their church in other places. Maybe in the woods, maybe on a lake, maybe through music or by reading the Bible.

I might wish that non-attending believers would find the same joy I do in church attendance, but isn’t it great that God is there for us no matter how — or where — we choose to reach out for Him? We have that assurance through the Bible itself. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you...(Matthew 7:7, King James Version) Note the lack of designation concerning location. Wherever you are, seek. Wherever you are, knock.

What a comfort to know that God loves and listens to all his children, those who don’t attend church and those who do. Even those who attend turch.



About the author

Sue Harrison

BIO: Novelist Sue Harrison is best known for her Alaska trilogies. Her novels, national and international bestsellers, have been published in more than 20 countries in 13 different languages. Her novel Mother Earth Father Sky was named by the American Library Association as a Best Books for Young Adults. Sue lives with her husband in Michigan, but has family here in Nebraska and love Nebraska’s rich history. She is currently writing romantic suspense for the inspirational market. Catch up with Sue on her website and blog – .


  • Sweet story, Sue Ann. And it is indeed comforting to remember that God loves all of us, wherever we may be. I’m one that believe “the church” is more than a building, but refers to the people of God. Not all worship happens under the roof of a conventional church building. However, I don’t think being alone in our faith is something God prefers or intends for us. Just as embers that are separated eventually die out, so is it hard to retain a vital and glowing faith in isolated situations. There are extenuating circumstances, of course, but when people deliberately choose not to join in corporate worship because they think they don’t need to attend church to maintain/grow their faith, or they can worship just as well out in nature (I’ve heard people claim both), I believe they miss out on the nurture that God provides for those who gather together. And it’s hard to ignore the scriptural admonitions:
    “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
    “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20)

    • Such wise words, Carol. God does want His children to support each other in fellowship, but when that isn’t possible it’s good to know He is still there for all of us. Thank you for those wonderful Bible verses!

  • Well hello there Sue. We have never met but I use to teach with both Denny and your sister Jody. I am a firm believer of it being a MUST to attend and worship in a church setting. Most of my immediate family lives outside of the city of Escanaba…but my wife and I ( 44 yrs. this past July) have formed a secondary immediate family with those from our church membership. So I am with you…. WE are the church and we need an extended family to share our faith AND in most cases to increase our faith journey with our Lord.
    Thanks for sharing and maybe some day we shall meet in person!