On Oct. 18 The Tribune reprinted a fascinating piece from the Religion News Service titled, "Mainline Protestants: vintage or vibrant?" The piece examined the fact that many mainline Protestant churches are shrinking and have been for decades. This is true, but as a pastor of a Presbyterian (USA) congregation in Sugar House that is growing and also growing younger, I would like to rise and say, "Rumors of our demise are a little premature."
The article suggests we may be in need of re-branding. I would say no to that, but not for the reason stated by Steven Hunter, quoted in the piece: "People didn't leave these churches because of marketing or branding, and they won't come back for it either. Sorry. But you can't water down a faith until it's essentially meaningless and then expect to still draw people."
"Water down?" I wonder. Is accepting Darwin's theory of evolution (seeing no conflict between science and our belief that God created the universe) to water down the gospel? I think not. Mainline Christians happen to be Christians who, in most cases, have highly developed critical thinking skills. That's all. We may not take the Bible literally in every instance, but make no mistake, we take it seriously. Very. We do our best to read the Bible on its own terms, not on terms dictated by the political right wing in this country, a political wing that seems to have taken evangelical Christianity hostage.