Doing Church Differently

Rev. Sarah Campbell

I read this summer something that rearranged my understanding about church. (I shared this a few Sundays back…) Maybe it will do the same for you. Get this: According to Gallup, church attendance hovered around just 39% in the 1930s and 40s. It increased in the 1950s and by the 60s it was at 75%. This means that church participation has not been, as we often assume, in inexorable decline but rather that there are times when it rises and times when it falls, for different reasons. Like in the 1950s when Eisenhower encouraged everyone to go to services, tying it to the war against Godless communism, and so it was considered an American value.

We may well wonder then, during this year of pandemic, what will happen to church? Will people be turned off, because we’re not together or because a childish understanding of the word “God” may be kicking in—if God is all powerful and all this disease, racism, burning is happening, who needs God? Or conversely, there must be no God—and the word Christian is being hijacked by the religious right who worship Saint Ayn Rand. Or! will these hard times, that are clarifying our ultimate concerns, draw us back into a profound longing for what William James called “The More” and a deepening sense that we need our religion. Like the rapper Common sings in his song: “God is love…When the hard times come, I’ll be standing in your love” … Who knows what Gallup will report about these times? Will church participation decrease, stay the same, or increase?

We don’t know what’s going to happen to the religious landscape in general and to our church, in particular.

As for now, Mayflower is doing church differently and per usual Mayflower, doing it differently intensely. I learn so much every week about what’s going on behind the scenes or on the screens. There’s just so much. A few things are fading away. Some are taking a wee break, like Taizé. Some are just starting up in the fall. Most everything happening is happening robustly… and almost everything is by Zoom or tech, but some in a socially distant personal way. And you are warmly welcome to almost anything. See the website for contacts.

So much is happening…Adult Choir (30 people the first night back)…three Sunday morning Learning Communities, averaging 20 a meeting…Race Matters team…youth group…the centering prayer community…Prayerways…Immigration Team…Befrienders…care cards, 300 every other month now, and care calls…Rev. Bell, our Visitation Minister, in phone contact with 19 of our older members…Confirmation…tutoring at Creekside…serving meals to Families Moving Forward with Beacon…turning out 3,690 voters in 8 key Senate districts with our ISAIAH faith agenda…young adult ministry, 20 and 30 somethings meet twice a month…Women of a Certain Age…Earthwise team…Mayflower Addiction and Recovery Support team…Thresholds death ministry…8th grade OWL(ish)…Sunday School classes start soon from 10:15 to 10:45…two great adult ed series this fall, first on policing, second on democracy…children and youth choirs…Eli’jah’s delivery of bibles to all 3rd graders…prayer shawls knit and delivered…handbells…Council…Foundation…new member group is forming…and more is happening than any one person even knows…

We continue to financially support our denomination that is doing so much amazing work in these hard times and our partners through our monthly offerings and the 1% to immigration and .5 % to our Earth partners.

And Sunday morning worship.

We’re doing church differently for now. Just for now…Not forever. We’re going to love one another through this ordeal.

In Christ,