Another church closes its doors – Presteign-Woodbine United Church in the eastern part of Toronto offically closes its doors in June. But services have already stopped and it recently held its last annual spring variety show.
The church is merging with another church – but this is another sign of declining church attendance in Canada. The percentage of decline is not consistent in reports and surveys, but some show as high as 60 percent.
I’m more interested in the why than the what as I believe (pun intended) the what follows the why.
So, here is my somewhat biased take on declining church attendance. Disclaimer or whatever. I don’t go to church anymore except for funerals and weddings. And unfortunately at my age, the latter is more prevalent. The latter is also often taken out of the church and to that I say, good. We want to celebrate someone’s life, not their church attendance record when they were alive.
So why the decline?
It is all too easy to blame it on societal trends, i.e., from religious to secular. To me that is only a part of the whole. Yes, people are too busy and have to prioritize what they do or run around in overwhelm.
But when they do prioritize is church attendance near the top of the priority list? Not for many it seems.
More important, religious denominations are not giving us what we want and need. And on a deeper level, some people have turned away from God because they have either stopped believing that he exists or they just don’t think he is listening to them. They feel they are praying to dead air. And when they look at the extreme weather, terrorism, etc. in the world today, that only adds fuel to their fire. No, I’m not saying God is to blame for all that. But when people turn to their church they don’t get answers, they don’t get help, they don’t get peace.
In other words, churches and their services are no longer relevant for many people. And some, who may be angry at God, take it out on the closest to God place they know – i.e., churches, and just don’t attend services any more.
All the Yoga classes, dance classes, daycare, etc. held in churches won’t keep the church doors open – as a church at least. Perhaps if the building turned into a community centre, it would be more relevant.
As for Presteign-Woodbine United Church closing – the building could end up in the hands of a developer, although at this point I don’t know of anything concrete. It was speculated in a news story on Global TV over the weekend. Unfortunately, this church is not an old enough building to get historical status – it looks too modern inside and out (No, I didn’t attend services there, but a few years ago, took Yoga classes there). But a community centre function even with some structural additions would beat tearing it down and building a condo.
And to get back on the decline in church attendance. Sources can’t agree on that one. Just Google “Canadian church attendance decline Statistics 2016” or Google that without naming a country.
Only Child Writes