A good friend and a favorite teacher in the church I served in Ohio was Walter Bouman, professor of theology at Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus. We made him an honorary Presbyterian. About the only thing we ever seriously disagreed about was his passionate preference for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The first thing the resurrected Jesus does in the presence of his
disciples in the Upper Room is breathe. Before his famous back and
forth with Thomas, before he offers his bloody hands and side, Jesus
breathes, offers his peace, and then he breathes peace on the
At Duke Chapel we exchange the peace of Christ each Sunday.
The music is out in brassy force, the altar flowers are in full
bloom, and the sanctuary is full of people not seen since December.
Ironically, even the visitors know the story, or imagine they do, and
the lectionary readings are always the same—Matthew or John. What does
the preacher say in her second, or 22nd Easter sermon that wasn’t said
Having had the privilege of serving downtown churches in Columbus, Ohio, and in Chicago, I have watched city churches struggle to respond faithfully to dramatically changing environments. Broad Street in Columbus is a street of churches—stately edifices constructed in a time when many of the members lived in the surrounding neighborhoods. But the neighborhoods changed. Members moved away.
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).