Un-churched or Believers
By Georgie Bright Kunkel
It is said that Seattle is one of the most un-churched communities in the United States. It depends upon the value system of those who consider this fact whether Seattle is a great place to live or not. Church going has evolved from a time when the little village had only one church and those who were thought to be interested in saving their own souls attended there every Sunday. In my younger years, I attended Sunday school and was encouraged to occasionally sit through the adult service to take notes for discussion later on in my church school class. Being a studious teenager I was amazed at how much I learned about living my life from the Sunday sermon.
Now fast forward to a world which, through modern technology, is open to all who can tap into it. No longer do we feel responsibility for just our own family and our neighbors but we are deluged with all the needy people on the planet. To go from a child’s view of home and school to this worldwide awareness is sometimes more than the human psyche can tolerate. So does the modern church meet the needs of those dealing with this dilemma? To judge from the fate of the churches in my own area I would say that there are churches that are failing as other ways of being churched have evolved. In the rural village where young children grew up to work on the family farm or in a small business there was a continuation of the church that served the community throughout a lifetime. But for those who sought advancement in an industrialized society, many young people left the village for opportunities in the city. I personally tried out several churches in my city neighborhood after moving from the small town where I grew up. Once when I was accepted in one church choir I was told by a woman who considered herself the keeper of church morals that my lipstick was much too red. That was a deal breaker I can tell you. My Love That Red lipstick has been my trademark since I began wearing lip enhancement in high school and no one was going to tell me I couldn’t wear it anymore.
Since singing has been one of my lifetime interests I found my way into singing groups and church choirs wherever I lived. I still have the picture taken of my college choir processing down the steps into the concert hall at WWU. The Rainier chorale, still in existence, gave me the chance to sing on the Carnegie Hall stage. I will never forget the sound in that hall with several choirs gathered together to sing Mozart’s Requiem. It was my first visit to the Big Apple with its reputation of having more ethnic restaurants and churches than most any other city.
After one of the practices with the chorale I went to the hotel room to rest and found a bouquet of roses which my oldest daughter had sent for my debut in this great hall. I felt like a celebrity for sure. I even visited a huge New York church still hidden in between skyscrapers—the same denomination of the church that I currently attend. But enough of past memories. My most recent excitement was getting out on the dance floor for the first time since I broke my ankle. And can you believe? A little boy saw me dancing alone in my rock and roll style and came over, reached up and grasped my hands and finished out a complete dance with me. Guess this oldie hasn’t entirely lost it, right?
And I attend a church that includes dance along with many other ways of finding one’s spirit. In light of the recent Boston bombing we need to provide ways to enrich the spirit of those who might otherwise choose violence to make their statement in society.
Georgie Bright Kunkel is a freelance writer who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-935-8663.