Lifestyle / Politics / Society

Economic hardships drive masses to church?

Worshipers in NY church, courtesy of New York Times

Worshipers in NY church, courtesy of New York Times

by Nelima

I am not overly religious, but I must admit that every once in a while I get an urge to go to mass. Interestingly, when I was younger I went to Catholic schools, sang in the church choir and in high school I was church pianist. Yet somehow after high school that all changed. Long story short, yesterday I finally decided to go to mass after being M.I.A for months. I knew I would not make the morning service so I planned to catch the 5pm mass. All hyped up about mass I wore my ‘Sunday best’ in the morning and prepared to brave cold drive.

I got to the church and there was no parking in the church parking lot, which I thought was very odd. Generally the evening masses are quite empty. I knew this wasn’t a special day because I try to keep up with those. Yes, I do read the weekly mailings I get from my church. Anyhow, I parked farther than I would have liked to and managed a quick jog to the church. It was 4:35pm so I was thinking I would have some time for reflection before the mass, “Not bad Nelima” – I thought to myself. I entered the building only to realize that the mass had started at 4pm, bummer … I could catch it halfway as long as I hadn’t missed the homily. Okay, I’m thinking I might want to sneak into one of the side doors because this was one occasion that I didn’t want to stride in fashionably late. The side door was locked, grrr bummer again and odd again that’s never happened before ….. now I’d have to use the doors that go down the center aisle. Oh well, better late than never.

As I approach the doors to the center aisle I see a sign “FULL” …. What ?!?!?! At first I’m thinking that God is playing a cruel joke on me …. was this a sign is he too busy for me? To be honest for a minute I remembered a play I saw back home called “Heaven’s Gates and Hell’s Flames” it was a scary play about being locked out of heaven’s gates. So half embarrassed and half sad I turned around and quickly left the building.

I got to the car said a little prayer, hey as long as I was in the vicinity right? As I started to head home it was then I recalled an earlier conversation with Nekessa. She told me about a story that ran in the New York Times about how evangelical churches in NY are seeing record attendance due to economic hard times. Click here to read the article. Apparently they said that only evangelical churches were seeing the increase, but for other Christian denominations the attendance hadn’t changed much. Based on my experience I would beg to differ.

This incident brought back memories from home – Kenya. There was a time (probably still is ) when the most profitable businesses were churches and bars. I the term ‘business’ for churches too, because many a pastor got wealthy off the tithes and offerings of the ever increasing congregations. Interestingly enough, it was the lively evangelical churches that drew in crowds the fastest.

So I guess the New York Times needs to do a second segment and see whether the bars/liquor stores are seeing increased sales. And who’s pulling crowds faster – churches or the bars …….

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2 thoughts on “Economic hardships drive masses to church?

  1. “So I guess the New York Times needs to do a second segment and see whether the bars/liquor stores are seeing increased sales. And who’s pulling crowds faster – churches or the bars …….”

    That would be really interesting. Leaning more towards the bars/liquor stores….

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