Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Every Sunday. Really?

I just received an e-mail message from St. Paul’s:

Refuge at St. Paul's Canceled
for Sunday, January 23

Due to the anticipated effect of the Sunday evening Steelers game on attendance, Refuge at St. Paul's will not be held this Sunday, January 23. If you normally attend the Refuge service, please consider worshiping with us Saturday evening at 6 pm in the Chapel, or Sunday morning at 8 in the Chapel, or at the 8:45 or 10:30 services in the main church. Refuge at St. Paul's will resume on Sunday, January 30.
This is not the first time a Refuge service has been canceled with little warning. The last time it happened, I wondered how all those non-parishioners and otherwise unchurched folks that supposedly are being drawn to this service would get the word.

Apparently, we actually aren’t too concerned about them. There is no sign outside the church about the cancellation—we no longer update our sign in front of the church—and, at least so far, there is no announcement on the Web site. One of the prominent “Featured Posts” on the parish Web site is “Find Refuge at St. Paul’s,” which invites readers to “…find Refuge at St. Paul’s Every Sunday at 6pm” [emphasis added]. The weekly e-mail message last week noted, “Refuge at St. Paul’s is going strong and we invite you to experience Refuge every Sunday evening starting at 6 p.m.” [emphasis added]. Last week’s bulletin dutifully listed Refuge on the calendar for 6 PM January 23. Of course, that was before the Jets beat the Patriots.

Update, 9:57 AM, 1/20/2011: Last night, I received the weekly issue of the diocesan e-mail newsletter “Grace Happens.” It contains a notice about the cancellation of Refuge on January 23. (You can view the newsletter here.) Although it is good that this notice has been distributed, most Episcopalians in the diocese do not even receive the newsletter, and I’m certain that virtually no non-Episcopalians get it. The mention in “Grace Happens” does little to reach the people that are particularly targeted by the new service.


jmhjr4 said...

Reasonable(even unreasonable) people can disagree as to whether or not it is appropriate to cancel a church service because of a sporting event. I certainly see your point.

Lionel Deimel said...

I deliberately avoided the church vs. football issue, although, as you say, people can disagree about that.

My concern is that we have made no effort to let visitors know about the cancellation. I listened to the phone mail message from the church last night. It mentions Refuge without noting that it will not be held this Sunday.