Time. We spend it; we complain about not having enough; we want more all the time. It’s an odd commodity, if you stop to think about it. Albert Einstein said: “Time is an illusion.” Early on in my physics studies, I took a course in cosmology and did my semester project on the calculations used to determine the dating of Easter. It was actually quite a complicated affair and made me appreciate just how much we take for granted in our casual attitude about time. One of the books I found most interesting was Marking Time: The Epic Quest to Invent the Perfect Calendar by Duncan Steel. From the title you might begin to see that the construct of time has been challenging humans for centuries! Well, guess what? There’s actually a resolutions from General Convention that considers how we might address the scheduling of events in our congregations! Yes, I guess you knew I’d get around to a resolution sooner or later!
Resolution A096: Reduce Barriers to Participation in Church Leadership and Governance reads:
Resolved, That dioceses and congregations explore creative ways to reduce barriers to participation in Church leadership and governance, which barriers may include time away from home or employment, or the need to care for family members.
Life in the 21st Century is much different than it was earlier yet we try to function with church schedules that were appropriate for a different time and a different culture. Many books have been written recently about the “emergent church” and how we might attract those that check “other” or “none” when asked of their religious expression. We know it’s time to do something new and different and not rely on the “we’ve always done it that way” routine. Perhaps a place to start is to begin to consider how our church schedule might accommodate different family and work schedules right within our own congregations. Would a Saturday afternoon or evening or Sunday afternoon service work better for your community? Could meetings be done on Skype to reduce travel time and give families more time together? Would Christian Formation classes attract more participants if scheduled over a lunch time or right after work? Let’s think outside the box to create new models that would welcome the participation of more of our church communities and maybe even draw some new folks for whom the old patterns aren’t appropriate anymore!
Judith Schellhammer, Chair of the Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council