When Do We Cancel Church?

Last Sunday, a major snowstorm hit the St. Louis MO area leaving around twelve inches of snow. Every church in that area had to deal with the question: Do we or do we not hold our scheduled services? From what I have heard the vast majority cancelled their worship activities for that day but I thought you might like to read about the thought process by one member of the clergy when the possibility of cancelling worship services is a possibility. You can read the article here.

As the author points out, there are several considerations that pass through church leader’s minds when bad weather is approaching. No one likes to cancel a worship service, but the first and prime concern is: Will the lives of members (and non-members) be jeopardized by traveling in the bad weather?

Here at Christ the King, we have had to deal with somewhat similar situations during the years of my service. Usually the snowfall has been deemed not bad enough to warrant the cancellation of our worship service on a Sunday morning. We understand that there might be some risk for those traveling to church in snow but everyone is allowed to make their own choice and we pray that if someone deems it not a wise idea for their traveling, they will stay home. But our service has been held for those who choose to attend.

The more difficult decision has come with the arrival of hurricanes in New Jersey. In 2010, Hurricane Irene came in August and caused some moderate damage with trees and power lines knocked down. But the roads were passable and our service for that Sunday was held. Hurricane Sandy (I can’t bring myself to call it a “superstorm” since I don’t know what that hurricane did to earn such a title) came onshore a little more than 100 miles south and east of Ringwood on a Sunday and we had to make a choice as what we were going to do–remain open with our normal Sunday activities or close in preparation of the impending storm.

Again, we decided to hold our Sunday service knowing that not everyone would want to travel and that was all right. In the article from St. Louis, the author indicated she was the one with the final decision to make whether or not the church would be open in times of bad weather. I am willing to listen to my lay leaders and let them make that decision. It is their church and I will be there if they desire to be open. During the hurricanes, we were without power at our facility but we carried on by shifting to another location within the building.

These are not easy decisions to make because of the many factors involved. But more often than not, our Sunday service will be held if at all possible.

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