Since I’ve been at Sligo Church for more than 40 years, I’d like to take you on a trip down Sligo memory lane. When we moved here in 1975, the addition (Atrium Suite/Youth Room section) to the church building was just a dream. On Sabbath mornings, our oldest son, John, had to hike over to the “Servicemen’s Center” behind Takoma Academy for Youth Sabbath School. My daughter, Sharon, walked over to the Science Building on the college campus where she had Earliteen Sabbath School in the auditorium. Danny was in Junior Sabbath School in the Memorial Chapel, having to maneuver his crutches down the steps because there wasn’t an elevator. As you can imagine, it was a challenge getting everyone back together for church. When Rob was born in 1978 there wasn’t a “Mother’s Room”—oh, I forgot, yes there was-- behind the balcony, except that I never used it because I wouldn’t have been able to see the church service. But they did reserve the last row of the pews on the organ side for parents with children, except that many times other people sat there. I can remember one Sabbath coming in to sit in the back row, only to see it full of people without children. So I took Robbie out to the car and listened to the service live on WGTS. But we rarely missed a Sabbath. Sligo Church was filled to capacity nearly every week.
We’ve come a long way since then. We have the beautiful Atrium, Fellowship Hall, Sabbath School rooms, Parents’ Room--and wonderful programming for our children and youth. And yet, many Sabbaths, like the word of the negro spiritual,” there’s room for many a more.” I don’t have to worry about finding a seat when I come now. Though, I wonder if it’s partly because we can go online and watch the service and we’re just too tired to come after our busy week.
Now, I’m not longing to go back to the 1970’s, though I have many great memories. But I do wonder if we have even begun to realize the potential of our online members and visitors—our church without walls. It’s hard to visualize that there could be community with those who are passively watching online. I’m aware that there are many who are watching from all parts of the world—Zambia, Australia, Washington State and others. Last week there were more than 600 devices streaming our church service. Let’s assume on average there were two people watching those devices. That would be 1200 people who were worshipping with us last Sabbath that you didn’t see! It can be a great blessing to those who are sick or homebound. The challenge is finding ways that those people can feel like they are members of our community. Currently, those who would like special prayer can request to be added to our Sligo prayer list and the new Web page is available with information about events. You can share other ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.