Postcards from the Protestant decline in America

Religion News Service | 12/10/2019 | Jana Riess
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This weekend my husband and I were visiting my hometown in western Illinois and decided to attend a Sunday service at the Presbyterian church where we got married many years ago. We looked up the worship times on the church’s website—9 a.m. and 11 a.m., just like back when I was a member there in high school—and decided to catch the 11:00 service.

Change - Availability - Parking - Minutes - Days

The first change I noticed was the easy availability of parking, even though we pulled in a few minutes late. In the old days, not arriving early meant that there would often be no parking at all, especially because three “big steeple” downtown churches all shared a parking lot: the Presbyterians, the Methodists and the Lutherans.

Parking was not remotely a problem in 2019. What was a problem was the sign out front announcing that the church had one consolidated service at 10:30 a.m., despite what the website had promised. It looked like the sign had been there for some time.

Mine - Element - Church - Website - Something

There is a canary-in-the-coal mine element to a church that can’t be bothered to update its website with something so basic as its times of worship. What it communicates is that despite the fact that visitors are welcome, no one expects any to show up.

We wound up catching part of the Methodist service next door, and it, too, was very different from what I remembered in the 1980s. I think that every member of the small choir had gray or silver hair. There was a smattering of teens in the congregation, but nothing like the thriving youth group I remembered some friends being part of. There was a friendly and kind spirit in the service, which filled the room — that feeling of beloved friends who have known another for years and loved each other through many trials....
(Excerpt) Read more at: Religion News Service
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