huh

In Session tonight, we were wondering aloud if there were things the church could let go, given that we are a congregation of <200 trying to do the same things we did at >400. The Mariners have few ships (Presbyterian fellowship groups), and most of the participants are elderly, yet they keep doing several big events a year; is it time to let that go? Have the Presbyterian women outlasted their need now that women have a “place at the table” and Mission, a big PW focus is being done church wide? Things like that. Someone suggested that as we were looking at things that could go, maybe we should go back to quarterly instead of monthly communion, and several people chimed in in agreement. Wow! All of a sudden, my hackles were raised. Seriously, I sat up paid attention. If I had a choice, I would go the other way, to weekly communion. And I said as much. But it made me wonder. When I think of letting the “Hoedown” (we wear western clothes and eat barbecue beef and jello salad) go, are there people who feel about that the way I feel about communion? I would say communion is sacramental and the “Hoedown” is not, but it is about the community, and as we break bread together, it is its own type of communion. I don't know. I just know, I had a really visceral reaction to the idea of changing the thing I love most, but it is evidently not the thing everyone loves most, and it is worth considering what carries meaning for other people.

 

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10 Responses to huh

  1. Kristin Berkey-Abbott says:

    I’d go to daily communion if I could, although I’d need the services to be shorter.

    In terms of non-worship activities, our church of 125-170 members has adopted the idea that if lay leadership/groups/individuals wants to be fully responsible, then the activity can go on. We will not continue doing an activity because our church has done it for x amount of years. If no one will spearhead it and plan and bring it to fruition, we will let it go, no matter how wonderful the activity is, was, or could be.

    As an adult, I’ve always been a member of smaller congregations, so I know how painful these decisions can be. But the membership is also empowered, in a way that we wouldn’t be if the church had a staff of any size.

  2. bookgirl says:

    How do we help people transition from Program size to Pastoral size? They still want the programs. I think what your church has done makes complete sense. –Wendy

  3. Oh Wendy. I’m right there with you. There are few things that separate the biblical church from others, the Trinity, the cross, and communion. Maybe you could make sure communion is served at the bbqs! Kevin read a great book a couple of years ago called the “Trellis and the Vine”. It’s basically about programs vs. discipling….I think.:) I didn’t read it. Ha!

  4. deanna Long says:

    I had the same reaction when I was playing a game with Christians, and we had to debate an issue, and I had to debate the side that argued for only traditional piano and organ music, rather than letting guitars etc. come in. I was all for letting modern music come in, but when I argued the other side, I saw their viewpoint clearly, and I had NOT before….

  5. Elizabeth Nordquist says:

    The Session is fortunate to be gifted with someone as thoughtful and elastic as you are…I am with you in your longings, feel that that there is something theological at stake, but your spirit of wondering is a gift to the process.. Prayers and blessing accompany you in this Lenten journey.

  6. Silent says:

    As a disclaimer–I’m Lutheran–so Communion IS a sacrament, not just sacramental (and has weekly communion). But I wonder about the move to having communion less often as ‘letting something go.’ I’m presuming you’ll still have worship the same number of times…I simply cannot understand how reducing the frequency of communion makes sense. If it’s about overworked/overextended staff and volunteers, is communion set-up/clean-up, that hard? As a pastor, I would argue for weekly communion–even if it meant I had do to the set-up/clean-up on the extra weeks. But again, I’m Lutheran–and at least 1/2 the time we do intinction (dipping wafer or bread into wine/grape juice so it’s not a laborious set-up or clean-up process.)

    That said, it is probably good to try to consider what things mean to others.

  7. Mimi says:

    Okay, I know I come from a Episcopal viewpoint, but quarterly Communion? Really? No, no, no, no, no! This is our most intimate connection to our Lord, where we accept his gift and become a part of him. As one person above said, I would do it every day if I could.

    But–I agree with you about considering what others feel about it. So often we don’t. But communion is not just a social or even a community activity. Eeeeek!

  8. Well, all the others here have said what I would add. But then I too am from a tradition that has communion weekly. Nothing else makes sense to me. I only let things go at the church when no one signs up to organize it.

  9. Kim says:

    I can only speak for me, and I don’t mean to imply that this applies to the members of your church at all – this is just my personal observation about myself…. It used to be that I left worship or skipped it all together if communion was on the “menu.” After my Walk to Emmaus, I yearn for communion. At Emmaus, I moved closer to God, and that has made the difference for me.

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