Piety Hill Musings

The ramblings of the 51 year old Rector of St. John's Episcopal Church of Detroit. Piety Hill refers to the old name for our neighborhood. The neighborhood has changed a great deal in the over 150 years we have been on this corner (but not our traditional biblical theology) and it is now known for the neighboring theatres, the professional baseball and football stadiums and new hockey/basketball arena.

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Location: Detroit, Michigan, United States

Sunday, March 26, 2006

A Sunday Afternoon ritual

I revisited a Sunday afternoon ritual today, one that I had not felt the compulsion to do in quite a while. No, it is not something liturgical, nor is it my other Sunday afternoon ritual of listening to the Detroit Tigers game on the radio (which, by the way they are winning v. the Yankees 8-7). No, it is the 'who was missing this morning' ritual.

What is this ritual and why its revival? On Sunday afternoons I would sit down and write down a list of who was not in Church this morning. Generally this is brought on by disappointment in low attendance, but also because it is a way to keep on top of who might be falling through the cracks. I haven't done it in a while because attendance has been generally on the upswing this winter, and it has been a great relief to look out at the growing congregation of worshippers. But the last few weeks attendance has been slipping a bit. Nothing drastic, but not growing either. Attendance at all services together has been lingering around the 180's the last few weeks, not the 210's as had been through through February. So this afternoon I sat down at the table and began the list.

First I list those who are almost always present at services on Sunday, but were missing today. Immediately I thought of 10 families, accounting for 35 people. One family is out of the country, another up north visiting family, a third visiting another parish (they do that monthly). Another just had a baby and another had surgery. Some are probably sick - a cold is going around (I spent Monday through Wednesday battling it). But that is 32 people usually here, but not today.

Then I begin to list those who are not so regular, but should be! We see them occasionally for a variety of reasons; including lingering membership ties to another parish, distance from the Church, or an unfavorable work schedule. Some of them are perhaps lukewarm in their faith, or going through some crisis of belief that the devil is using to keep them away. Here I come up with 48 people from 20 families. Neither of these lists include those who we see 4 or 5 times a year, or those who claim membership here and we haven't seen in a while for a variety of reasons.

So there it is.....80 regular and sporadic attenders not here this morning! That is a larger number of missing 'regulars' than most ECUSA parishes in the city limits (and maybe the diocese) have members. If they all were here we could be averaging attendance in the 260's! God grant us the grace to have that and more!

So this week I take The List to work to make emails, phone calls, or send notes to those not accounted for. God willing we can get them all here next week, and for those who have fallen out of practice - back into the habit!