Sardis United Methodist Church
"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."
After hiking a considerable distance, I finally landed at SUMC, and paused to catch my breath. Entering I found four people in attendance. This could be an award winner, beating the Alaskan church for smallest attended. However, it filled until 22 people or so attended.
A rural church, the building was austere and simple, with mint green chairs, carpet, and white walls. A picture of Jesus hung in front. The choir chairs, behind the podium sat empty, reminding one of a larger congregation in days past. A lady played the piano as the faithful entered and sat.
A few people said hi, obviously the new guy, and Sharon, the PW (Pastor's Wife) greeted me warmly. She's the stereotypical PW, big hair, big personality, leading the worship and sweet as a key lime pie. The ages were mixed fairly well- hard to tell with so few people. Three kids equals ten percent.
The Methodists have a standard liturgy; Opening prayer, responsive reading, songs, announcements, and greetings of the faithful. Then Sharon sat with the children for their sermon. She presented a potato and potato chips and spoke about temptation- we know we should eat the healthy food but are tempted to eat bad food like potato chips.
As she finished, she gave the chips to one boy. Huh? What was that lesson?
We shared joys and concerns. Sharon asked me to stand, introduce myself and tell everyone about my adventure, so I did. We sang another hymn (All the songs old enough to be historical), then Pastor Steve spoke about temptation and how we must stand against the wiles of the devil. He finished, we sang, 'Blest Be the Tie' and shuffled out. I walked back to the campground, thinking where are the campers? Weekend campers probably take Sunday off. When I was a kid, not matter what, we went to church. If we were pheasant hunting, we'd find an early Mass, get in, get out early and get back hunting.
But what about the snowbirds? Do they not worship in the South? Is the church descending into irrelevance?
I felt schizophrenic. While they provided plenty of love to go around (especially PW Sharon) and it was a rural church, was it sustainable? It had that dying feeling, that the church must be shrinking with the passing of each member.