Summary of the 10:30 Service at LeeAnne’s
Present: Campbells, Wheelers, Greens, Lofton-Kreshcenskis, McDavids, Ron and Deb Brown, DeLucas, Jennie W, Mark W, Cindy J, Bruce B, Judy G, LaVonne M, Don P, Gina Y, Rainy M, Bob B, Julie T . . . with write-ins from Mike and Betsy Brown and Linda Davis Johnson.
LeeAnne gave some data: Attendance at both the 9am and 10:30 is shrinking, membership is stable. People are coming to church less often. This is an ECMN-wide, Episcopal-wide, Mainline-wide phenomenon.
LeeAnne gave some reassurance: She loves the BCP, the 1982 Hymnal, they are a vital part of her spirituality and an essential part of the St. Mary’s life. She is committed to the service.
We talked about how it felt to be in worship these days. Responses included: sad, empty, always glad to see friends though.
Questions came up such as: Why did some people leave? Why did Bjorn’s hours get cut in half but Conie’s only by a fourth?
We talked about the context around St. Mary’s and the future of the Episcopal Churches in St Paul. It is likely that there are only going to be a small handful of churches left in the old model of church, and these will need to be a resource to the other forms of Episcopal gatherings in St Paul. LeeAnne would like St. Mary’s to be one of these resource churches. So what do we offer that other churches don’t offer? What are our particular strengths?
History of a strong music program, and so finding a qualified Music Director is important.
Keeping the text of the liturgy and using the 1982 Hymnal is important.
So how to build on those strengths? We spoke about renewing our commitment to being welcoming – which means we need more greeters and they need to be present to help LeeAnne greet at the end of service.
LeeAnne announced that there would be an hour for education on a Sunday morning. This decision was arrived at through a survey last fall, unsatisfying attempts to have adult ed be only 20 minutes, and years of complaints that our Sunday morning children’s programs are too short, and in consultation with the staff and elected leadership. The plan was an 7:45, 9, and 11am service, with the traditional service being at 11. Much discussion made it clear that this crowd would rather worship at 9am than 11am. LeeAnne said she heard that and would go back to the 9am team, staff, and elected leadership to consider that option.
We talked about the culture of church attendance and Christian formation changing, and so our future will need to include multiple times/ways for people to both stay connected to church and learn about discipleship. For instance, our podcast community is 3x greater than our Sunday attendance. When we Facebook Lived the service on Easter, it was seen by more than 2,000 people. Interesting.
Many thanks to all who attended, shared food, prayed together, spoke their minds, disagreed, challenged, expressed gratitude, and laughed. It was a good example of Christian community working together.