Maybe the doubts have been brought on by the interment of several parishioners recently. Not a couple of months back I wrote about the welcome visit of Jessie Hoffman and her husband, Ken. Then came the shock of hearing of her passing. At the end of the month, Florence Slavinski will be laid to rest.
Shortly after, I found an old parish list. Well, a 12 year old parish list at any rate. Running my finger down the list, I murmured. Passed away. Moved. Left the church. And, every now and then a sigh of relief as there was the name of an active member of the parish.
It got me thinking. Given the median age of the congregation, could we, after 107 years, be the last worshipping community of St. Oswald's? Twenty years ago, Don Grayston asked what he assumed to be a rhetorical question. It's the year 2000. Will we still be here in another decade. He was greeted with a chorus of shocked, "YES! Of COURSE we'll still be here!" And we were. But if the same question were to be asked today, would we be as certain?
On that old parish list, there were several young families. Enough for a flourishing Sunday School. People in their 40s and 50s, willing and--more importantly!--able to take on all sorts of chores demanded by a century old building. A few years earlier, it wasn't uncommon to have 18 folk turn out to Bible Study before the service. Today, we're lucky if it's two.
Yet many churches are full to bursting. Those with upbeat guitars and drums. Those with buildings large enough to conduct a real outreach to the community. Those with sermons that cater to the seeking intellectual. Churches that offer black and white answers--do this, don't do that and Heaven is yours.
We haven't changed much in the last 100 years. The liturgy--a thing of beauty to me--may not reach to the under 40s. The hymns--no matter how we try to introduce more modern ones--are generally of the type that to those raised on music videos and Youtube--must sound like they came out of the ark.
So I ask myself. Is there a place for us in the world of internet and Facebook? Are we rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, or do we still have something of relevance and beauty to offer a hurting world?
I hope so. I really hope so....