DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — For hundreds of years, people have gone to church services on Sundays. But at one church in Duluth this summer, Sunday will not be the day to congregate and celebrate the Lord.
Instead, that day will be Wednesday.
“You’ve got to do something bold and different once in a while,” said the Rev. Peter Bagley, who has been the pastor at United Protestant Church for more than nine years.
It started with one member of the congregation who reportedly said, “I like church. I also like going to the cabin.”
That sentiment, plus an annual decrease in summer church attendance, got others thinking — until they had a revelation.
“Our solution is to have our regular worship service at a time when our disciples can attend,” Bagley said. “While some churches will add a Saturday night service, we have decided to take what may seem to be a very unusual step and move the whole service to another day and time.”
He believes his church may be the first in the Duluth area, and maybe the first church in the state, to make such a switch. While he knows some may question whether changing the day of worship is a biblically correct thing to do, Bagley points to a similar issue raised in the Roman church during the days of the Apostle Paul.
According to Romans 14:5-6, he said, “One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it.”
Charlotte Franz, pastor at sister congregation Pilgrim Congregational Church in Duluth, said she wishes United Protestant well in their endeavor.
“I hope that for their church members that it is positive and for those interested in finding out more about a church, to check this out if it better fits their schedule,” she said.
She said her congregation also has been taking stock of what she called a “habitual way to operate” and see if it’s really effective in today’s world.
“We didn’t consider taking away Sunday,” she said. “For us it was more about doing things cooperatively with other people. I think more and more churches are realizing we just can’t operate out of habit.”
To that end, Pilgrim is joining Hope United Methodist Church, Chester Park United Methodist Church and United Baptist Christian Church for services on the Sundays of Memorial Day weekend, July 4 weekend and Labor Day weekend.
“I think it’s a way of building relationships in a time when attendance is down for all of us,” she said. “I think of this as a time of experimenting with things. We’ll try it and evaluate and see if it works.”
In the meantime, Bagley is getting used to talking about Wednesday services.
“It’s a little strange to say it’s on Wednesdays,” he said. “But we promise to make Wednesday a day of esteem for our Lord and we encourage people to give it a try.”
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