I went to Easter service at the church I grew up attending. It’s a beautiful, turn-of-the-century brick church. The bricks were locally made, the stain glass windows are gorgeous (re-done in the 1980s), and the bells loud and clear. I have vivid memories of watching the women in the quilting bee, attending co-op preschool, and eating church dinners between its walls. I love this church.
Unfortunately, few people love this church anymore. There were maybe 25 people at the service. Easter service. A service that’s generally busy for most churches. Not this one, anymore.
I grew up in a small town. Just a couple of thousand people. Very Mayberry-ish. In the 1980’s, my home town and all of the small churches were still viable. There was a perfect mix of families with engaged parents and elderly old-timers. Events and activities were well attended and enjoyed.
Then the kids of these active parents left. I was one of them. I couldn’t wait to leave. Some did stay, but most of us left and never went back permanently. My hometown is still—largely—viable. All of the basic amenities are there, which isn’t the case for most small towns. But the churches are dying. And although I’m no longer an active church member anywhere (small churches are dying in Sacramento, too), this makes me sad.
I know I could do something about this. I have a spiritual life, but it’s not with a congregation. I grew up Methodist—a denomination who’s politics I can still largely support (as a gay woman). There’s a definite sense of community that comes from attending church. And I would like my children to have at least a basic understanding of Christianity, regardless of what they ultimately decide to believe and practice. There are always excuses, however. So many excuses. No right or wrong or guilt. Just excuses.
Going home always pulls my heartstrings. Part of me wants nothing more than to move back home. Homestead. Be part of the rebuilding of this community (and not just the church community). But, still, excuses and reasons why not. Again…no right or wrong or guilt. Just excuses.