Sunday, January 8, 2012

Refuge or No Refuge?

I am not a regular attendee of the 6 PM Refuge service. I was ill for most of December, however, and haven’t rehearsed with the choir in weeks, so I thought I would worship at the evening service today.

I arrived at St. Paul’s about 5:55. Only one car was in the parking lot, though one entered the lot just behind me. I headed for the door nearest the elevator, waiting for whoever was getting out of the other car. Unfortunately, I discovered that the  door was locked. It only took a few minutes to determine that all doors were locked, and, except for a second floor room in the education wing, no light could be seen in the building.

By the time I returned to the parking lot, seven people had gathered for a service that, apparently, was not going to happen. We speculated that the service had been cancelled because of the Steelers game, but two people had checked the church’s Web site in advance to be sure that the service was indeed scheduled. After waiting for a while, we all went home.

When I checked the church’s Web site, I found this notice for the week of January 8:
Refuge at St. Paul’s
Refuge at St. Paul’sresumes [sic] with a new Season of Clarity this Sunday, January 8 at 6:00 p.m. Come early for the prelude and stay late for a glass of wine. Refuge is a multi-sensory, contemplative, and creative worship service. It is not to be missed. Refuge is a truly unique and moving service.
 So, why was there no service? I have no idea.

I take away three thought from tonight’s disappointing experience:
  1. Why are we even bothering with a service that can only attract seven worshipers at the beginning of a new “season”?
  2. How  do we expect to develop a congregation for a service that is often cancelled for one reason or another and sometimes doesn’t happen for no apparent reason?
  3. Not everyone planning to attend Refuge can be expected to check the church’s Web site, but what does it say about our concern for worshipers when checking the Web site doesn’t even help?
“[T]ruly unique and moving service” indeed!

Update, 1/9/2012, 10:11 AM: In response to an e-mail question, Kris gave this explanation for yesterday’s lack of a Refuge service:
Yes. I am going to put an apology in the weekly email. The heat is out in the church and there is an electrical problem with some of the outlets in the chancel. With those difficulties on top of there being a playoff game we decided it best to cancel.
We announced it at church, called the usual suspects, put it up on facebook, and unfortunately, when we went to send an all parish email found there was an issue with the network and couldn't send one out. We didn't realize this until after church was out. I was going to put signs up but got distracted and left without putting them up. I apologize for forgetting the signs.


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