On Faith

On Faith: Drummer to lead worship and workshop at ERUUF

January 14, 2014 

Matt Meyer

Matt Meyer, a nationally known musician and organizer, will lead two worship services and a drumming workshop on Sunday at Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 4907 Garret Road in Durham.

He will lead worship services at 9:30 and 11:15 a.m. titled “Power, Justice and Love: A King Day of Reflection.” As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, attendees will sing out a vision of the promised land and celebrate the life of a modern Moses. All are welcome.

A drumming and spirituality workshop wil be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. for people of all skill levels. If you’d like to attend register in advance with the ERUUF office at mailto:office@eruuf.orgor call 919-490-2575. Bring your own drum.

Meyer, based in Boston, is a member of the UU Association Council on Cross Cultural Engagement and is a founding board member and resident of the Lucy Stone Cooperative in Roxbury.

A graduate of the Berklee College of Music, he has studied in Cuba, Ghana and Central America. He is an artist of percussion, knowledgeable and experienced in a variety of styles including Latin-jazz, Brazilian, folk, funk, hip-hop and pop.

The performance is part of Eno River's third annual “Thirty Days of Love” campaign to encourage members to commit to at least one hour of service to area social justice ministries or agencies. The effort begins Jan. 20 on the MLK Day of Service.

Church numbers

Most mainline churches are reluctant to talk about numbers. Like how many new folks joined their ranks during a past year, for example. Or in some churches, how many folks got saved during the past revival meetings.

Some preachers say, “Numbers don't mean everything” or “The church is more than mere numbers of people.”

Then there are others like retired United Methodist Bishop Will Willimon who has some different thoughts on the subject.

“In my experience those who disparage the revelations provided by numbers are usually those whose churches are in decline. Numbers equal people being reached by the church, and any church that doesn't show growth is not fully faithful in participation in the mission of Jesus Christ,” he has written.

Put resistance to talking numbers into the context of what has been happening over the past few decades in American churches and you will come away with a frightening realization. Willimon cited forecasts from a national church consultant who predicts that half of the active churches right now will be closed in 20 years.

Church attendance across the board has declined 20 percent during the past decade and even denominations like Southern Baptist that had seemed to plateau have begun to slip. The United Methodist Church is losing 65,000 members per year, he said.

But there's good news, too.

“We have learned a lot about why churches decline,” Willimon said, “and about how to change that trend.”

As part of its ongoing self study and planning for the future, Duke Memorial United Methodist in Durham where Willimon is serving as interim pastor, recently used services of Conrad Lowe, a nationally known church consultant, who led a two-day event for church leaders and clergy.

Willimon summarized some of the consultant's suggestions:

• Get in touch with the urban area where your church is located, get to know the young and innovative folks who live there.

• Get out into restaurants, bars and coffee houses.

• Claim the neighborhood for your church.

• Attract young couples with a booth to hand out water at the lovsl Farmers Market.

• Make your church facility available to groups like a new congregation of 20-somethings.

• Have a pastor who lives in the neighborhood.

A stained glass window in the sanctuary at Willimon's Durham church is of John Wesley after he got kicked out of the Anglican Church for not being orthodox. With no place to preach, Wesley went into the church graveyard, got on his father's tombstone and preached.

“This is amazing,” Willimon said. “The purpose of the church is to be out there, not in here. The Methodist Church has it in its genes, and we need to reclaim that.”

One of the things most churches do is for members to invite newcomers to worship. The church consultant said the most effective invitations to church come through new members, not long-time members.

A tip any church can try.

Spanish conversation

The Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist, 106 Purefoy Road, is offering weekly Spanish conversation classes from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Led by the Rev. Gary Kowalski, pastor, the group is free and open to the public.

Learners of all abilities are invited to practice their Spanish in order to improve their language skills, meet new friends and increase their cultural breadth.

Bring a brown bag lunch.

Contact Flo Johnston at flo.johnston314@gmail.com or 910-361-4135.

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