March 3, 2014

Snow Day?

As the list of closures started scrolling across the bottom of the TV, I waited for the commentary from the couch. It didn’t take long.

“I can’t believe all of these churches cancelling services!”

To frame the discussion a bit, my husband (a priest) doesn’t cancel worship services because of bad weather. A vestry meeting? Maybe. But never a worship service. Even if he expects he’ll be the only one there, he still shows up.

Masochistic? Maybe a bit. But mostly he feels like it’s really important to open the doors to the church for regular worship, even when the weather is bad, even when the schools are cancelled. A caveat here is that we live in the Midwest – we’re not in hurricane territory and thankfully haven’t had a major weather disaster. So we’re talking about snow and ice. Of that, we’ve had plenty this year. But come every Sunday morning, the doors are open, and he’s celebrating the Eucharist. 

A few weeks ago, he had to work pretty hard to make it safe enough for folks to come. Our church has no parking, not a single designated space. It’s all street parking. The ice, then snow, then ice had piled up three and four feet, especially along the sides of the street, pushed aside by plows. My husband called the city to make sure it was OK for the church to hire someone to clear the sidewalks and parking spots. The city was incredulous: “You’re not calling to complain? You’re calling to tell us that you’ll do this with your own money. Yes, yes. You have our permission.” 

So a guy with a bulldozer moved the ice and snow, and we held worship. As with any service, a note was sent to parishioners: The doors are open. Services will be held. But make the best decision for safety. If you’re road is too slippery or the sidewalks too icy, it’s OK. No pressure (or at least no more than on a normal sunny Sunday). 

This may open a can of worms among Vital Practices readers, but I wonder what others think about snow days for church. What are your thoughts and practices?