Groton woman expresses faith through acts of kindness

Kathy Lewis at Community Baptist Church in Groton Tuesday, December 27, 2016.  (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
Kathy Lewis at Community Baptist Church in Groton Tuesday, December 27, 2016. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)

Groton — For at least 15 years, Kathy Lewis didn’t go to church.

She was a single parent for part of her life, and the church she attended at the time wanted money, she said. She didn’t like that. So she stopped going.

Then about nine years ago, a woman at a craft store invited her to a service at Anchor Baptist Church in Ledyard. Lewis felt kind of lost at the time; her husband had died and she had few friends, partly because she worked second shift for the state Department of Correction.

“I figured I had nothing to lose by going, but when I went, I really liked it,” she said.

Lewis later became a member of Community Baptist Church in Groton, where she volunteers in the nursery during Sunday school, sings in the choir and reaches out to others with small but meaningful, consistent acts of kindness.

For months, she drove a woman and her husband back and forth to his cancer treatments at Yale-New Haven Hospital, staying with them as long as 12 hours at a time. When a widow was in a car accident, she stepped in to help manage the insurance paperwork. After a church member lost her husband, she helped with the funeral, then made sure she got out and didn’t become isolated.

“She literally would give away everything she has just out of her love for people,” said Pastor Michal Fourman.

Lewis worked for 25 years as a records specialist in the correction department, retiring in March. In 2010, she earned the praise of the Terrorist Screening Center and the FBI, after she recognized a possible match of someone on a terrorist watch list and contacted the screening center. “Ms. Lewis downplayed her actions saying that she was ‘just doing her job,’” said the department newsletter published at the time.

She can’t recall the name of the award today, only that she was recognized. But this is part of how she works; whether through activities outside church, sending care packages to active-duty military members, doing work for grandparents raising grandchildren or knitting blankets for newborns, she prefers to do so quietly.

Becoming part of the Baptist church taught her about the power of prayer and faith, she said. God doesn’t always answer prayers the way people expect or with the timing they’d like, she said.

“If you don’t get what you want right off the bat, you have to have faith. He hears everything,” she said.

Lewis was raised Catholic but found she could speak to God directly through the Baptist church, she said. Now before she speaks or acts, she asks herself, “Would God approve?” She started with the ordinary things, like the way she talked. For a Department of Correction employee who once let the swear words fly, it wasn’t always easy.

She approaches her service to people the same way.

“I do it from my heart. I don’t do it because I want glory for it,” she said. “When you’re doing it for a church, you’re doing it for the Lord.”

d.straszheim@theday.com

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