Rev. William Bills
September 28, 2021
FROM THE PASTOR
Restarting worship services and other activities at church has been interesting to say the least. At one point I thought perhaps we might need to offer four services in order to accommodate people while social distancing. But there hasn’t been a huge surge in the return to in-person worship in the sanctuary. I am sure that Covid 19 and the advent of the Delta variant have something to do with this. Nonetheless, it is a bit of a head-scratcher.
The first time we missed Easter I caught a lot of flak for that. A number of members and friends of UUMC were simply adamant that we had to have worship services in the building on Easter. I was hopeful too but it was not to be. The following year it was not such a big deal. I guess once you skip Easter you begin to get used to it. Of course, having Christmas Eve worship online probably helped prepare everyone for not being at church on Easter the second time. Not going to church can become as much of routine, habit, tradition or discipline as going to church.
In 1976, Dr. John Savage, a United Methodist pastor and practicing psychologist wrote a book titled The Apathetic and Bored Church Member. Way back then Savage was concerned about the downward trend in church attendance. His small book detailed many of the reasons people might have for disengaging from their church. One big take away from the book, though, is that the longer one is away from worship, the less likely one is to return. Back in 1976 being away for six consecutive weeks made it far less likely that one would ever return. Forty years later, people who self-describe as regular church attenders attend twenty-one Sundays per year, on average. In the twenty-first century people didn’t need another reason to miss church. And then there was Covid. And Delta.
So now a lot happens through the miracle of technology. We have invested a lot in technology in the hope that the congregation can stay connected through worship. It has taken a lot of work and it has been very frustrating at times. Purchasing, installing and learning to use live streaming technology has been difficult. I used to loathe making video recordings for worship. Now I appreciate very much being able to shoot retakes! When we screw up on air live everyone sees it in real time. Thank you for your patience. It is appreciated. If you were on YouTube when we first started live streaming and you were disappointed, please give us another try. We have learned a lot in a couple months. Most of it the hard way. And you are missed when you are not here. But stay safe, tune in and let’s see what God has in store for the future of the church.
Rev. William C. Bills
At University United Methodist Church, we affirm that as disciples of Jesus Christ, we are an open and inclusive congregation and welcome all persons into full participation regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic situation, age, ability, education, background and whether single or partnered.