The holidays are behind us, and winter is truly here. On a cold, rainy day, I can most likely be found curled up on a sofa with a cup of tea and one of several options to keep me from a task I should be doing. On a recent day, I was catching up on news from around the country – I know, bad idea unless you like being depressed. The story that gave me pause concerned the lack of faith and decline in church membership.
Soon after my parents married, they moved to Washington, D.C. for my father’s job. They joined a church, and even though they moved to Arlington, Virginia a few years later, they continued to drive into the city with my sister and me every Sunday to attend. Even as a child, I was a night owl. So, having to wake up early to get to church was not something I wanted to do. However, once I arrived to my Sunday school class, I was glad I came. I had friends that lived in Maryland and other parts of Virginia, and church was about the only time I got to see them. We came during the week for dinner and choir practice and always for special events. And, even though we moved to Fairfax, Virginia, which put us even farther away, we still made the journey on Sunday. Years later, my husband and I were married in that church.
As newly married and young, I will admit to backsliding in my church attendance. However, having our daughters brought us back to the fold. After years of attending a Methodist church in Winston-Salem, we made the switch to an Episcopal church. Our family found the change to be the right fit for us and our religious relationship. Leaving that church when we moved was the place I missed the most.
As our daughters left the nest for college and marriage, I wondered if and where they would find their church homes. Interestingly, only our middle daughter ended up attending the Episcopal church. Our eldest daughter joined a Presbyterian church, and our youngest a Methodist. I am pleased that they all have found a church that meets their needs. Moreover, I am happy that my grandchildren will have a foundation in which to make decisions as they mature.
So, why are religions across the board declining? Surveys taken in recent years show that people between the ages of 15 and 29, who were not raised with a strong religious background, chose their affiliation as none. My concern is not for those not being regular church goers but rather that they have no faith at all. Whether it is an organized religion or not, we all need to believe and have faith in something.
I hope that my grandchildren will continue to say their prayers, be guided by their parents to continue to learn lessons of kindness, ethics and morals, and be equipped with enough knowledge to make a decision based on their true sentiments concerning religion and not some misguided trend. With the current state of the world, we could all use something to hold on to!