Shannon VanderWeide is currently one of our college community group leaders and grew up in the church. We’re glad to get to know her better through this interview.
Shannon, when and how did you start coming to Covenant Fellowship Church?
My attendance wasn’t up to me, to begin with, because my parents began attending just three months after the church was planted. While I always felt free to explore other churches as an adult, I have come to see Covenant as my church home, not just the church of my family.
Where do you live and what community group do you attend?
I’m currently living just outside the borough of West Chester and attend the Witters’ community group. Somehow (long story!) Ben and Emily have managed to be my community group leaders since college. I kid, of course, they’re the best!
Where did you grow up?
While I’m a Chester County resident now, I grew up in Drexel Hill, and will always have a deep, deep love of Delco because of it!
Tell us about your family.
My husband, Philip, and I are currently enjoying the rich Aunt and Uncle life with 9 nieces and nephews between my many (many many) siblings!
Do you have an interesting family tradition?
I’m not much of a flower person. This came up a few times when Philip and I started dating in 2014 (especially since our dating anniversary somewhat unfortunately coincides with Valentine’s Day!), and I assured him that while I think they’re nice, I much prefer tokens of affection that don’t die within 48 hours of receiving them. On our first anniversary, I made an impulse decision to buy HIM flowers as a joke, but when he picked me up from the train station for our date, he initially thought I’d tricked him into thinking it was ok not to buy me flowers and bought them for myself because I was mad about it! I’ve been buying him flowers on Valentine’s Day ever since.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
No joke, I so deeply repress embarrassment, that I cannot call up embarrassing moments on command. Sometimes, they’ll come back to me as I’m about to fall asleep and the shame will keep me up for hours.
Tell us about your job.
I currently work as an Art Director at a medical marketing and advertising company in West Chester. I’m also a freelance artist and designer, so I have have several side hustles going, as well.
Can you list “four favorites in four words”?
Seltzer, tunes, Philip, TacoBell
What ministries do you serve in at CFC and how have you have seen God work in one of those ministries?
I serve on the IMAG (video) team, and I also lead a college-age community group. College-age is a newer ministry for me. Previously, I served in the youth ministry for 8 years. Many of the college students now are people I knew as youth from Cross Culture – seeing how God has grown them and matured them in their faith is incredible. It is a picture of his faithfulness to all generations that I am seeing play out right before my eyes, and it’s awesome!
What are you currently studying and learning in your devotional times?
Refractions: A Journey of Faith, Art, and Culture by Makoto Fujimura—a beautifully written reminder of truths my soul needs often. In particular, the truth that creating art presents an opportunity to connect people to some of the deepest parts of the character of God in ways that can transcend boundaries of spiritual backgrounds and beliefs, an opportunity I often do not consider.
What is your favorite verse or passage of scripture, and why?
Psalm 73 will always be near and dear to my heart. It’s super comforting to see people in the Bible essentially talking out their pain and heartache, but still clinging to hope in God in the midst of it. I think a lot of Christians feel like they can’t acknowledge when their faith is struggling under the weight of life’s problems. This verse shows one of the truest kinds of faith there is: faith that persists even when life is rough.
If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her?
Mom was right not to let you buy those platform Doc Martens, and also what you “feel” about something doesn’t change what is true. God is with you even when you don’t “feel” like he’s there. His plans for you are good even when it doesn’t “feel” like things are turning out the way you’d hoped they would. Just because you “feel” like you can’t get through the next minute, doesn’t mean he’s not giving you the grace you need moment by moment.
When and how did you come to Christ?
As a kid, I had a very loose grasp of the truth, to say the least. I lied frequently and easily and actually delighted in successful deception. I loved the freedom I thought my lies could buy me if I crafted them carefully enough to get myself out of trouble. Growing up in a Christian home, I was frequently asked by my parents whether or not I was a Christian. I hated this question because, for whatever reason, this was the one thing I could not bring myself to lie about. I knew that saying “yes” would be false, but I couldn’t admit this, even to myself. So, every time this question was posed to me, I would cite a sinner’s prayer I had prayed as a 5-year-old and just try and move on.
God graciously revealed what a deadly lie my supposed salvation was. He did this through the testimony of my older sister, Meagan. Meagan’s genuine and passionate pursuit of Christ and the transforming effect it had on her life was pretty condemning when I compared it to my own so-called Christianity. God opened my eyes to the truth that I could never deceive him into thinking I was his child when I was really just living for myself. I was moved to true repentance, gave my life to Christ, and found the truest freedom I have ever known!
What is one situation you have faced or are facing? Share how God moved, or is moving, in the midst of this experience.
The past year has truly been the busiest of my life. My nine to five job has been a lot more than just nine to five, and when I get home, I have several hours of work left to do for my various freelance clients. It’s been truly exhausting a lot of the time, but through it, I am beginning to see God as my provider in ways I never have before. Through unexpected financial curveballs he has thrown my way, he is teaching me that it is not my work and my strength that sustain me, but only his grace. While I might be more comfortable if I could frontload all the grace I need to get through my days and weeks, he’s growing me in dependence upon him to give me the grace I need at the precise moments I need it, and he’s never too late, either! It’s honestly exhausting at times, but it is exactly what my soul needs!