They were visitors in our worship service and, like all visitors in a small church, they were not hard to spot. I could see from the looks on their faces that whatever they were looking for in a church, we didn’t have it. When we all stood to sing the hymns, they just looked straight ahead, never making an effort to sing and not even picking up a hymnbook.
During the day, her mother’s confusion was manageable, more or less.
They would wake up, have their tea and toast and walk around the house,
noticing which flowers were waxing and which were waning. After their
mid-morning nap, they would have lunch and then settle into a long game
of cards or—her mother’s favorite—dominoes.
This summer, my divinity-student wife is doing a unit of clinical pastoral education.
As someone without any pastoral care experience, I’ve been fascinated
to hear about the scenarios (real and hypothetical) that come up in
CPE-related conversations. For instance, a classic: Would you baptize a
From Britain to Denmark, Europe has hundreds of empty churches. The closing of a church is painful—especially in villages where the church for centuries served as a community anchor, even for unbelievers. Efforts are often made to adapt the buildings for a community service, such as a library. Because they are very expensive to maintain, empty churches are more frequently turned into some kind of commercial endeavor. The Church of St. Joseph in Arnhem, Netherlands, still owned by the Catholic Church, has been turned into a skate park. The Netherlands has the largest number of idle church buildings. Roman Catholic leaders in Holland estimate that within a decade two-thirds of their 1,600 churches will be closed, and 700 of the country’s Protestant churches will likely close over the next four years (Wall Street Journal, January 2).