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This page last updated 30 May 2011
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

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Letters from 23 to 29 May 2011

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters express the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

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Last week we asked readers how they got themselves to church and whether the means of transportation enhanced or diminished the worship experience. The resulting avalanche of letters (by far the biggest weekly batch we've ever received) was fascinating but too big for us to publish all of them. Almost all of the respondents told us that however it is that they get to church (and walking is clearly in the minority of those who responded), they use the time to prepare themselves for worship, one way or another. One rector said that he was glad most members of his parish didn't live close to the church, because those who do live close aren't very good at respecting his privacy. Here are a few of the letters.

Trains and planes and automobiles?

I walk to church at least as frequently as I drive. Heavy rain, bitter cold, summer heat, or other appointments sometimes prompt me to drive. Walking does give me time to disengage from the world and prepare me for worship. On the way home it gives me time to digest the time I've spent at church before I re-engage with the secular world.

I don't think driving diminishes the experience of church, but walking enhances the experience.

Anita Williams
St. Paul's Episcopal
Beloit Wisconsin, USA
23 May 2011

Well, no, I do not agree with you. In fact, I believe the opposite point may be made. I have walked and enjoyed it (does walking across the parking lot from the rectory count?) but I have also driven regularly over an hour, taken the subway or the bus for several minutes but have never, unfortunately, had the opportunity to take a carriage. I suspect I never will. Having some inconvenience in attendance may heighten our awareness of how special a place our worship spaces are. I wonder what my monastic friends feel about this, living as they do above the shop. I shall have to ask.

(The Rev) Carlton Kelley
The Episcopal Church in the United States
Richmond, Indiana, USA
23 May 2011

For almost all my adult life, I have lived close enough to my parish church to walk to it. Mostly that has been a fairly long walk- close to two miles.

For the ten years I lived in Cooma I sometimes walked to work early and worshipped at St Paul's Cooma at morning prayer - a service much promoted in that country town of about 8,000. There was always a congregation- usually only 5 or 6 but sometimes more. It was good to be there. I can't remember thinking much about the things of God, if I thought of anything much it was probably the work that lay ahead of me.

I rarely if ever walked to church on Sunday, for most of that time my wife and I went with our then very young family.

In the 16 years I've lived at East Maitland, I might have walked to church about half a dozen times, for though my family has grown up- and my sons live away- my daughter has multiple disabilites and cannot walk more than perhaps 1/4 of a mile at a stretch. Still Sophie and I go to worship just about every Sunday.

This last year Christmas was on a Saturday, church on Sunday was one early service- too early to get Sophie up, fed, medicated and dressed for church -at least with a household of family- for my sons were home and my wife's parents were visiting. So I decided to walk, but got a lift with one of the parishoners who was passing. That was a pleasant surprise and we talked for the perhaps 5 minutes it took to get to worship of church things. But it was a far more pleasant surprise when my elder son turned up just after I arrived . He drove me home.

He worships in a church in Sydney a short distance from my parents with whom he lived for a few years when first in Sydney. I can and have walked there for worship but was probably more taken with the splendid views that walking to the crest of the hill between my parents house and the church than I thought of the things of God. And yet God gave me the view- the ocean, the beach and the trees. Just as God gave me the trees and the frosts and the gardens full (in season) of daffodils, tulips, jonqulls and crocuses that delighted me as I walked to St Paul's Cooma.

Peter Kirsop
St Peter's East Maitland
East Maitland, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
23 May 2011

While I very much enjoy the imagery of the whole "walking to the village church" concept, my entire childhood passed in a small (2,500 souls) cow town in western Arizona, USA. The town itself was pretty spread out, and at that time there were more than 30 churches of all stripes and sizes. But except for the relatively few who lived within reasonable walking distance of their church, the rest of us were scattered around. Thus while I could have ridden my bicycle, I suppose, the three miles or so to St. Alban's, the fact is that it was easier to drive. There was (and is) no public transportation, and thus like so much of the western US, everyone uses private motorized transport of one kind or another. Since childhood I have visited many times in England and France, usually in places where the parish church was indeed within walking distance, and I enjoy doing so when the occasion permits. But it seems to me the reality of many of us in our daily lives is that the parish church is just not within easy reach.

Peter Winterble
Nuesta Señora de Fatima
Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
23 May 2011

When I was received into the Episcopal Church over 45 years ago from the Roman Church I lived three blocks from my local, newly-adopted parish. Sometimes I walked and sometimes I drove to Mass. Both modes of transport gave me time to prepare myself for what I was about to experience.

For the past three years I have been worshiping at St. Mark's in Philadelphia. Door to door it takes me exactly an hour as the distance is 65 miles from my home. Walking is now not possible but I have truly come to cherish the time to Mass to really think about the wonderful gift I am about to take part in. St. Mark's has a magnificant choir, beautiful liturgy, wonderful, caring clergy, and a very warm and loving faith community who truly live what they believe. I have truly found a blessing and excitement I have never experienced before. I would take two hours to get there if necessary. St. Mark's has taught me that it is not "the locus but the focus".

I really enjoy Anglicans Online and can't wait for my Monday morning reading. Thanks so much for all you do.

Br. Robert James McLaughlin, BSG
St. Mark's Church, Philadelphia
Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, USA
23 May 2011

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Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All published letters are in our archives.



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