"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Church as Community and Community as Church

I am not unbiased when it comes to the work of Michael Plekon, to whom I owe much. It is a great gift to have him as a friend; but his works are also gifts, and my students delight in them when I assign his books in the classroom, including, recently his Uncommon Prayer: Prayer in Everyday Experience and Saints as They Really Are.

Now he has a new one out: Community as Church, Church as Community (July 2021), 272pp. 

About this book the publisher tells us this: 

Parishes of all denominations are in decline, shrinking, closing, dying. We know that there are increasing numbers, young and older, who are religious “nones” and “dones.” This book explores why the decline is taking place, why the distancing is going on. But it goes on to examine parishes from all over the country and from various church bodies that are resurrecting. The central theme of death and resurrection shapes the analysis of parishes covered. Parishes are resurrecting by reinventing their ministries, by repurposing their building to better serve their neighborhoods, thus replanting and reconnecting with them. All of this is the Spirit’s doing but through the community of sisters and brothers who make up each congregation of faith. Community as the core of church is the other reality shaping the book’s reflection. And community, a parish being with those around, living for more than its own survival are visions for going forward. Other aspects of congregational life are also examined, most importantly the pastors—how they serve when budgets shrink, how they are trained, how pastors act with the community not above it. No recipes are suggested for parish resurrection, but the stories of the parishes that have revived bear within numerous lessons for us in the future.

I read parts in draft, and have again read the whole book this month. I've sent some questions to him for a blog interview, and await with great interest his thoughts, which I will post in due time.  

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