Simon’s Says

Jessica Grose has just completed a five part series of articles in The New York Times about Americans moving away from religion.  The series is informative, well researched and timely, but one thing it is not is surprising.  Anyone affiliated with a community of faith, regardless of what that faith is, has noticed a steady diminution of attendance and participation.  Most often those who have become, or always have been, unaffiliated are referred to as the “Nones;” when asked to tick the box that most describes their religion, they choose “none.”  Gorse cites Ryan Burge, who writes in the book The Nones:  Where They Came From, Who They Are and Where They Are Going, that the Nones can be divided into three categories:  atheists, agnostics, and ‘nothing in particulars.  “Atheists believe there is no God,” Burge writes, “agnostics are open to the possibility, but not convinced, that God or gods exist, and ‘nothing in particulars’ don’t align themselves with any specific faith tradition.”  It bears noting that Burge is both a local church pastor and a political scientist at Eastern Illinois University.

Grose’s fifth and final article resonated with me the most, because she observes something that I have long held, something that you all have probably grown weary of hearing me say.  The article is titled, “What Churches Offer That ‘Nones’ Still Long For.”  She describes how there are plenty of other activities and organizations that can bring people together in ways similar to the church.  However, what is missing from those groups is the sense of community.  Community, not in the shallow sense of bringing together people of like minds and interests, but in the deep sense of being there for each other in the most difficult of times.  As one sociologist noted, a soccer team can’t provide spiritual solace in the face of a death, it probably doesn’t have a weekly charitable call, and there’s little sense of connection to a heritage that goes back generations.  It was my dear grandmother who made sure I was in church regularly, and whenever my grandson is in town on a Sunday morning, he is also in the pew.

Unlike most other organizations, the church builds community both within and beyond our walls in a way that few, if any, other can or do.  And we do it not because we are such good and upstanding sorts of folk, but because we are rooted and grounded in God.  At the end of the day the church remains something bigger, greater and better than a mere collection of like-minded people; it is a beloved and, we pray, blessed and blessing, community.

Here are the links to this week’s bulletin and service, and remember we worship at 9:00 am for the next two months.

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United Church of Chester, 29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412. (860) 526-2697


From the North: Take CT Route 9 South to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn left; we are 1 mile on the right.


From the South: Take CT Route 9 North to Exit 8 (old exit 6) (CT 148). Turn Right; we are .8 miles on the right.

Office Hours

Church Office:

Tuesday - Friday 9-1


Minister's Hours:

Wednesday  - Friday



Mailing Address:  

Post Office Box 383, Chester, CT 06412


Physical Address:  

29 West Main Street, Chester, CT 06412





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