As the Spring starts to turn into Summer, parishes in the warmer climates are waving goodbye to their winter-time members. And northern congregations are waving hello. The strong seasonal differences between the sizes of congregations presents some challenges to people left behind.
In one congregation in Florida, there’s a sense over the summer that the smaller attendance numbers allows for the growth of a deeper community within the parish.
“That ‘getting-to-know you’ feeling abounds at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, in Bonita Springs. One-third of the congregation remains year-round, another one-third visits for six months, and an additional one-third spends three months or less in the area.
‘There’s a real energy and vigor with the seasonal residents,’ explains the Rev. Dr. Michael Rowe, the church’s rector. ‘But there’s a real opportunity to get to know year-round residents and minister to them.’
On a typical Sunday in the off-season, Rowe leads as many as 100 people in service, a number he considers substantial for an Episcopal Church. For that reason, the parish keeps the same worship schedule even in the summer. Prayer groups and bible study continue, and the church hosts vacation bible school for children. Perhaps the only noticeable change is that the choir is smaller and rehearses for just 30 minutes before service instead of the weekly practice sessions it holds in season.”
Read the full article here.
Does your congregation experience this sort of strong seasonal change in attendance? How have you adapted?