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Message from Rev. Carmen

Posted by St. Alban's Episcopal Church on August 17, 2022 at 10:40 AM

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 122:1

 

Earlier this week, I was having coffee with a delightful newcomer, which I always love to do.

 

She asked me how St. Alban’s has weathered the past couple of years of pandemic. She wondered if we’d seen a decrease in giving. I was happy to share with her that annual giving has actually increased, plus we recently had a successful capital campaign to expand our facility! Our parish has responded to the current moment with incredible generosity and faithfulness.

 

Then she asked if church attendance had gone down.

 

My answer? “Well…yes.”

 

She understood. While we have welcomed many new faces over the past two years, we’ve also seen some longtime members drift away, and others attend with less frequency.

 

St. Alban’s is not alone in this trend. Most, if not all, of my ministry colleagues across denominations are experiencing the same phenomenon. The past couple of years have been tough on church attendance. When our churchgoing routines were disrupted, many folks formed new habits. Some individuals and families haven’t had room in their “Covid risk budget” for church. And others have grown weary of the safety protocols we’ve had to implement.

 

All of these reasons are understandable. I totally get it!

 

And yet, as we gear up for a new academic/program year, I want to extend an invitation to return to the routine of church for those who are able and have not yet done so.

 

Not because I miss seeing you. (Although I very much do!)

 

Not because you’ll get more brownie points with God. (I don’t think it works that way.)

 

I invite you to come back to church because you are an essential part of the Body of Christ, and it’s just better when you are here.

 

You help make this community more of what it ought to be.

 

And I believe that the rhythm of what we do at church together nourishes us. A consistent life of prayer, common worship, learning, and service helps our roots of faith to grow strong and deep, so that we are better equipped to weather life’s droughts and storms.

 

Even before I was ordained, I knew this to be true. I have found that, whenever I’ve been more consistent in my worship attendance, being in proximity to my fellow worshipers and to the sacraments has been a lifeline for me. It has given me a sense of meaning and purpose.

 

I do not bring this up to make anyone feel bad about not being in worship often. Goodness, no! Everyone’s circumstances are different, plus shame is not one of our values. So please, let go of any guilt you may be carrying about church attendance lately. There is no judgment here, only joy and welcome.

 

I simply offer this message to invite you and your family to come home to St. Alban’s this fall. We love you. More importantly, God loves you.

 

And there’s good stuff here for you. Fellowship events. Friendships new and old. Sunday School classes and outreach opportunities for all ages are gearing up soon. Most of all, there is bread and wine, broken and poured out for you. Come and see.

 

Yours in Christ,

Carmen

 

P.S. If you are reading this and you are someone who has already been coming to church recently, think about someone you haven’t seen in a while, and reach out to them. Send them a copy of these words. Invite them to meet up with you on Sunday morning and sit together, or see if they’d like a ride to church. There is power in a personal invitation from a peer!

 

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