Good Morning Robb,
I am writing to tell you that I visited two churches this weekend in Pennsylvania where my father was the pastor and I attended as a child and young man. I( did this, in part because my recently deceased brother also attended these two churches and built a “false” wall in back of the choir area with a stained glass depiction of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
The one church had a very sparse attendance – about 25-30 in attendance I was struck by this. When my dad served at that church it was always full. I reflected on this situation.
When my father was pastor there we were in the midst of a depression and then followed by WW II. I think these two events contributed to church attendance in their own ways. Perhaps, more importantly, the houses were built closely together – for the factory workers, I suppose – sort of a “Company Town.” Very few people had cars. You had to take a trolley car to go to the movies. There was no entertainment opportunities in this little town. People were generally on the lower part of the socio-economic scale. So, in a real sense the church served as a gathering place. Church dinners and lawn fetes were common, The kids played basketball in the church basement and square dancing occurred weekly for many. So, in a real sense the church served not only as a place to worship, but also as a place that members of the community could use as a community center. Now, everyone seems to have cars, TV, etc. and, of course, with new churches being built in new areas/plats, former farmland, etc. this church does not seem to be as important as it once was in the earlier years. The minister gave an excellent sermon and was well liked from all that I could tell.
On a chance I drove to the other church that I attended – about 30 miles distant. The church is a now a “New Life Baptist Church.” I was surprised that the Service was still occurring and so I entered. It is a “Black” church. I was warmly welcomed and soon became engaged in the sermonizing and the very active response by the congregation. I really enjoyed the “noise”, so to speak, the flag colo0rs that were often waved and the many and varied responses from the congregants. Toward the end of the Service they formed a Prayer Circle in which I participated. It was such a friendly and devout Service.
I also got to visit various places where my brother I frequented as children and, all in all, I had a great time!
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