Sunday, 17 July 2011

Blog 1 for July 17th 2011 Going retail?











The cartoon comes via my friend, the Revd. Bob Ginn.

Its immediate reference is to the closure of Roman Catholic Churches in Massachusetts.

But it could also be apropos to Episcopal Parishes in the Diocese of Western Mass, (where I served for 24 years), three of which have recently been closed, and many 
of which are marginal and “hanging on by a thread”.

In the Diocese of Massachusetts where I served for six years, three parishes have recently been closed - long after their “sale by” dates.

Meanwhile back in my native city of Bristol, U.K. I can think of a score or more of C of E, Baptist, Congregational/URC, and Methodist Churches which have been shuttered in east Bristol (localities such as Lawrence Hill, Barton Hill, Easton, Whitehall, Eastville, St. George, Fishponds, Hanham, Kingswood, & c).

Protest as we may, none of these closures have happened because of matters of doctrine or belief.  

Churches are also closing because fewer and fewer of us are "joiners" and participants.  We prefer to be spectators! 


(Social clubs, masonic organisations, parent-teacher associations, sporting clubs etc are also showing signs of decline in membership).

Churches are closing because of demographics. Congregations are aging both in the U.K. and the U.S.A.  

I, for instance,  am at the tail end of a generation for whom “Church” was a norm as a measure of social behaviour (even if they did not attend).


The generations who follow me are finding that the Church is incomprehensible. They find that their lives are perfectly fine “sans religion”.  They simply do not 
understand the need for God, for faith or for Church.

(*)


(1) Contrary to what you may read,  the more evangelical churches are also showing signs of attendance decline in the U.S.A. Even the Southern Baptist Churches are losing members.

(2) There is some growth in the Roman Catholic Church in the U.K. and in the U.S.A.  This is chiefly because of immigration (Latinos in the U.S.A., Polish folks etc in the U.K.).  Meanwhile in the old Roman Catholic strongholds of cities such as 
Chicago, Boston, New York, parishes are being closed hand over fist.

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