Every priest I know is asking the question, “Will people come back to church?” Based on last Sunday, the answer for St. John’s is a resounding yes! Our in person and online attendance were about twice what they have been. It was a glorious Sunday with the start of our new Music Director, John Karl Hirten, starting and many people returning to church now that schools are back in session. Both the 9am and 10am had their largest attendance since the pandemic began.
It is too early to say if we will return to our pre-pandemic attendance numbers. There is a lot of speculation that the pandemic has accelerated the de-churching of America. Of course, Sunday attendance alone does not define the church. The overall engagement of the church with parishioners and the community is what is most important as we live into our vision that St. John’s will be a spiritual home that welcomes all, loves and respects all, and serves all in Christ’s name.
My own sense is that most people still feel a strong affiliation with St. John’s, but that may or may not translate into in person or online attendance, especially as the pandemic drags on and we face new variants. All we can do is be faithful to our mission: “We pray, worship and celebrate the Gospel responding to the needs of our communities while building relationships to support us on our journey of faith.” This is our real work as a church.