Part Chatauqua, Part Amateur Hour: A Small-Town Church Where the Members Do the Sermon
The pastor of our little church takes the month of August off. So does much of his congregation. It’s not a big group to begin with; on an ordinary Sunday in October or May, we’ll have 50 or so present. In mid-August, we seldom see more than 25. So, rather than pay some retired minister to “supply the pulpit,” we supply ourselves. Four lay persons, all volunteers, read Bible verses and say a few words in lieu of a sermon.
It’s part Chautauqua and part Amateur Hour. Last August, one of the deacons talked about the Amistad case, in which a group of Africans who had been kidnapped by slavers rose up and took control of the ship. On the second Sunday, a gentleman talked about the Bahá’í faith, which has a landmark in our town. The next week, a woman who had lost two siblings in childhood spoke movingly about the best ways to “be there” for people who have suffered such losses. At month’s end, a choir member revealed funny details of rehearsal shenanigans.
Amateur Hour makes us appreciate each other a little more. We share our experiences, our joys and griefs. We discover unexpected depths and eloquence in our midst. We learn that certain people may be paying close attention to what we say and do—and maybe even taking notes.