While out of town on a recent Sunday morning I found my way to a
Lutheran church for worship. After the sermon, when it was time to say
the Apostle’s Creed, the pastor began with a question: “Who are you
people? A secular world, jaded and weary, wonders why you are gathered
People today often speak of a world that has changed dramatically. The
old pillars of morality, values and truth seem to have shifted.
Newspapers and other periodicals are disappearing. Technology has
changed our lives. There is an anger in the land. Many, worried about
jobs and the future, are scared, tired and frustrated.
When Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona in late April signed a bill authorizing local police to apprehend people suspected of having entered the country illegally, she brought to national attention the tensions and frustrations that many Arizonans feel when it comes to immigration. These tensions are evident in congregations, which contain a wide range of opinions on immigration policy.
I was out of the country recently when a member of my congregation died. When this happens I feel the pain of being unable to do anything helpful, and a little guilt as well. That’s when I relearn a basic lesson in ecclesiology: I belong to a community of faith that knows how to be a church in my absence.
When our United Methodist Annual Conference urged pastors to create covenant peer groups as a way to maintain connection, seven of my colleagues and I agreed to meet every other week for a few hours of prayer and conversation, mutual accountability and “resourcing.” It seemed appropriate when one of our meetings was scheduled for the Feast of St.
By one estimate 7,000 churches close down each year in the United States. A 2012 study predicted that 20 percent of the churches in Philadelphia would close within ten years. Many of these churches are architectural gems. Razing these buildings can be very expensive. A more satisfactory solution is to repurpose them, turning them into art and culture centers or housing units. The Mount Airy Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia is having 20 condominiums built on its property. The sanctuary will be leased back to the congregation for its continued use (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 4).