Friday, April 13, 2007
Churches changing to keep faith alive- A Courier News Report
By CELANIE POLANICK
Today's Christian processes more information in one day than pious medieval peasants did in a lifetime. Somewhere between the new Easter outfit, the marshmallow latte and the Easter basket containing an iPod, a yoga mat and a chocolate bunny, the traditional message of Easter can get lost.
Armed with technology and multimedia and drawing from a range of world cultures and traditions, local churches are confronting postmodern life in creative ways and giving new meaning to the phrase, "If you can't beat it, join it:"
-In Hillsborough, that means a church sponsoring its first-ever Easter egg hunt, a secular tradition the church's members wanted for their own congregation.
-In Bridgewater, that means a church using slides of famous paintings in one service and incorporating the ancient tradition of hands-on healing in another service.
-In the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen, that means playing host to theological and spiritual discussions for younger people at bars and restaurants in a program called Theology on Tap.
-In Morristown, that means the first service today of an independent, non-denominational church that formerly met in Bernards, and includes a variety of outreach efforts such as prayerfully pumping gas for strangers.
-In Somerville, that means one 89-year-old church member puts church fliers in strangers' mailboxes.
The potential pool for new congregants is vast. In February 2006, Christianity Today magazine reported that 61 percent of Americans believe in God but don't attend church.
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