Like so many churches across the country, St. Philip's experiences a major decline in attendance over the summer months. This article addresses that phenomenon and reminds us to "be mindful that God will be with us, following us, no matter where we go."
Life in the urban and suburban parishes in Newfoundland and Labrador experiences fluctuation over the summer months. Most of the families within our parish do not come from the city; they have moved here from outports and islands in Trinity, Placentia, and Notre Dame Bays. Many are faithful throughout the year up until mid-May or early June: thereafter these individuals and families hold to a somewhat nomadic, transient life. People head ‘home’ for the summer, or they head to the cabin and camper, to get closer to their roots, to get away from the hectic pattern of life on this part of the Avalon Peninsula.
The worship life in the parish adjusts, and some may think that the worship life and spirituality of the ‘transients’ might be non-existent. That is not so. I am frequently reminded through interaction with colleagues in ministry, through bulletins deposited on my desk, and through reminiscences from parishioners, the importance of prayer and worship in the leisure times.
It is wonderful to hear of excursions during the food fisheries, or at cabins or a camping site, that persons turn to prayer, and not only to address concerns in weather! These persons and families connect with the homes and parishes of their birth. These small communities have opportunity for an insurgence during the summer months in their congregations. I hear of Eucharist being celebrated and many engaging in the life of the parish in meaningful ways. Children have opportunity to attend Vacation Bible Schools; people have the opportunity to explore their faith in the context of childhood memories, with different leadership and spiritual support.
There are many ways that people engage, and for those of us that are tied to the urban and suburban life for parts of the summer due to commitments, we are called to engage in the life of faith as well. We are called to explore our spirituality through the regular pattern of reading, reflection, prayer, and engagement in worship. As we celebrate the gift and growth that summer brings, let us continue to move deeper and more profoundly into God’s love and service.
How will this be for you? Will you abandon the encounter with the sacred once outside of the regular pattern of life and ministry? Will you strive to reconnect more deeply with the God who created you, as you revel in the change of routine that summer brings?
No doubt the patterns of life and ministry are somewhat similar across this great country. We are called to engage more deeply each and every day, whether it is summer or not. We are called to this ever deepening relationship as we respond to the God who loves us and brings us transformation.
As we perhaps transform to the nomadic life this summer, let us be mindful that God will be with us, following us, no matter where we go.
Source: Anglican Church of Canada, The Community