Monday, August 22, 2011

Baseball Sunday and Summer Services

It appears that we are reaching that part of the UU Blog cycle when we talk about how churches should really have summer services. Talking about the issue can make us sound a bit like a broken record but--really--that's fine.  It is the sort of annual ritual that never quite reaches adequate resolution. It needs to be brought up again. 

Regular readers of Burbania Posts are, I think, well aware of my position on this.  Summer services in my congregation are used to try out new things.  We turn the smaller attendance and generally more casual atmosphere to our advantage by worshipping in a way that we might not otherwise.  It is fun.

This summer attendance has been higher than usual (though still way below what we expect when school starts back up again).  Maybe our attitude is paying off!  No matter what the reason, our regulars are enjoying themselves and, I think, the visitors are as well. Incidentally, some of my colleagues have mentioned the whole "summer visitor" thing and there is truth in that.  We have had many more this season than in the others.

I was back in the pulpit after a few weeks off.  In spite of that gap, I have been around church a lot this summer.  I have been here enough, in fact, to endorse the importance of having the pastor around even when most everyone else is on vacation.  God doesn't really go to the Cape, after all!  That said, I also believe that people need to have realistic expectations for the season.  In most liberal-to-moderate Burbanian congregations things will be smaller.  Again, this can be taken as a strength.  It is a time for people to learn and adapt, creating something new and different for when the rest of the church returns.

This was "Baseball Sunday" for us as we went from our worship service to Pawtucket, Rhode Island to watch the Red Sox AAA affiliate get destroyed by a team from Syracuse.  That, too, is something that we don't get to do the rest of the year.  It is our second time doing this and we learned from the first.  Reserved seats got us under the stadium roof, for example.  We also gave away our excess tickets to random folks at the gate "Courtesy of the Eliot Church".  They sat with us as well.

Perhaps I will post the "sermon" later.  I have written before about how our summer format is such that the whole service has an integrated "sermonish" feel, so perhaps it won't work all that well.  Our readings were from Babe Ruth (about liking pitching for the Sox better than batting for the Yanks), Jackie Robinson (about Hank Greenberg), Walter Johnson (about the 1924 World Series), and Paul.  We sang three hymns, all accompanies by the ukulele, of course.  They were "Abide With Me", Take Me Out to the Ballgame", and "Oh Freedom".  I received some nice comments about how the uke facilitates the singing without being overwhelming.  I also decorated the sanctuary with baseball-themed pictures, books, and such to help with the "immersion" experience.  Maybe next year the PawSox will actually win...


  1. I think that Baseball Church might convince Paul to become one of your summer visitors.

  2. HE should! That would be fun...