Thursday, May 22, 2014

Churches and Bicycles

Living in an older American Community, Cincinnati, Ohio, I see an issue that I want to correct but don't know how.
In the rust belt cities a crucial element of their development was the church and a significant remnant of the built environment are the churches.
With population decline and people (like myself) being less inclined to attend churches they are increasingly being abandoned or floundering.
Stand in front of First Lutheran on Race St & look around. You can see about a half dozen churches and when blocked from view, you can see even more steeples. Some of these churches are active, some abandoned, and some active churches are desperately floundering. One is being transformed into a bar.
In the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati there are about a dozen churches but only about 3 still minister to their original denomination. One is a cookie factory, one is a home (but used to be a pickle factory, GAR HQ and, I think, a Turner HQ).
Churches minus religion are, essentially community centers but how many community centers do we need? People who do attend churches are more likely to go to mega churches located in big box hardware stores & movie theaters & such. Don't get me started on the sacred & the profane on these matters…
So, what do we do with them?
Religion is not immune to the free market & is constantly evolving to remain relevant to the evolving societies it is in. When the Protestants split off from the Catholic Church, the Catholics didn't just sit on their hands. When American Protestants flocked to the Catholic Christmas services, the Protestant churches started offering them, too. The Catholic church begrudgingly accepted divorce & now some churches are accepting same sex marriage.
I've been meaning to address this issue but it goes beyond one post. What got me to actually typing today was an announcement made by the Queen City Bike club listing their Bike Friendly Destinations. There is one church on the list. Dunno why - maybe QCB didn't reach out to the churches. But, with the rise in popularity of bicycling, maybe just reaching out to cyclists might be a way for existing churches to remain relevant, infuse some new blood & maybe thrive again.
A long time ago I ran across a group called The Out Spokin'. Yeah, corny…
They were a Christian group that did group bicycling/camping trips. They seemed almost military in their organization but they all had to rely on each other to do their chores, repairs & stuff so they built some kind of bond (kinda cultish, maybe…).
Anyway, I know chasing bicyclists isn't going to fill the pews up anytime soon but I will likely have more lame ideas to revive the churches & revitalize midwestern cities.
PS, I might be out soon to attend The Bilderberg meetings. Dunno, my invitation appears to be lost in the mail

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