Tom and I have gotten our work schedule at Chickamauga and Chattanooga NMP, and it appears that we will be working on Sundays during the three months we are here. I talked to our boss about it, and she said that we are most needed on the weekends. We volunteered for this duty and so we will honor whatever schedule she gives us.
Now, we are in the heart of the Bible Belt (I’ve heard Tennessee referred to as the buckle on the Bible Belt) so I figured we could find a Sunday night or Wednesday night service to attend. Our boss even said that if we could find an 8 or 8:30 a.m. service we could come into work after that on Sundays. So last week I spent several hours on the internet trying to find a worship service that was within those times. Among the 15 United Methodist Churches I’ve looked at so far: nothing. All their worship services (standard for the south) are at 11 a.m. Sunday morning.
But it makes me think about how the church limits opportunities for people to participate in the life of the church. The United Methodist Church has spent a lot of time looking at the people we exclude from worship, but I haven’t heard anyone talk about those people who have to work on Sunday morning. Do we offer alternatives for those people to participate, to worship? What does it say to people when we insist on having all our worship services on Sunday morning?
This is something I have considered for years, ever since a member of my congregation told me that she would be working the next couple of years on Sundays: how could she be a part of the church during that time? It was an excellent question, and – although I was never able to do a weekly worship service at another time – we did offer regular evening Bible studies and often had evening worship services.
How is your church open to people who are working on Sundays? What kind of stumbling block are we putting in the way of people who want to worship when we limit our worship times to Sunday morning?
I have some phone calls to make this week to continue my research. Many of the churches I found don’t have websites, so I plan on calling the churches themselves to find out worship times. I will also call the Chattanooga District Office to see if they have any suggestions. Hopefully I will be able to find an evening service or even a morning Bible Study on one of the days we have off. We will find some way to go to church.
Yesterday, during the quiet first half hour before the Visitor Center was open, I walked around Point Park. The mountain was clouded and you couldn’t see into the valley below. The park was quiet and still except for the song of the birds. And I worshiped.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. Bring an offering and come before Him; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness and in holy array. 1 Chronicles 16:29