While Bishop Willimon’s blatant consumerist view of the Church is tiresome, he still manages to make some very good points about (once)-large downtown United Methodist churches.
The Bishop has appointed me to Duke Memorial United Methodist Church. This 128 year old congregation in the heart of Durham was once one of Methodism’s great flag ship churches. And yet, in the past three decades Duke Memorial has experienced steady decline as well as a rising average age of membership. For the past five years, two talented pastors have led somewhat of a turnaround for us. The congregation has learned that it can attract new members. This summer our attendance has increased nearly 30% over last year and our giving has been at an unprecedentedly high level. We are on the move, movement made all the more remarkable because our type of congregation – the once large, downtown church – has been the most threatened type of congregation in United Methodism.
Years ago, when Bob Wilson and I were working on a book on United Methodist renewal, Bob…
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