I woke up this Saturday morning grateful to God for “retirement”. In these moments in casually planning my day, I contemplated a history of Saturday’s past when active in ministry.
As a teenager in the 60’s, I recall going to my church home in Aurora, Colorado, on Saturday mornings–mostly for a required confirmation class. I also had voice lessons with the choir director. Church was a place go hang out on Saturday mornings!
When asked to be a worship leader, we always had practice sessions with the pastor on Saturday mornings. As a teenager, I recall, the church was always open on Saturday mornings. The casually dressed pastors, two of them, were always around. There was activity and laughter up and down the halls–almost like Sunday mornings except less formal!
On a serious note, when I was off at college, I learned that my dad would often drop by the church office on Saturday mornings. For some reason, the pastor shared this with me following his funeral in 1973. This was something my pastor felt I should know. What were they talking about?
Dad was a quiet man who didn’t talk much about church. Yet here was drinking coffee with the pastor on Saturday mornings. I wonder if he would have had a place to go to talk about things, anything, if these pastor’s were not present in the church on Saturday mornings. I wonder?
I wonder if I would have been called to be a minister without access to the church on Saturdays?
Many years later, after ordination my ordination in 1977, I accepted my first call to serve in a large church in Davenport, Iowa. There were three ministers and a full-time director of music on the staff. I learned some important things in these first years of ministry. It was always an expectation in that particular church that clergy be ‘on-the-job’ on Saturday mornings. We always had a staff meeting to talk through the Sunday morning worship services. Lots of details concerning Sunday worship were discussed.
As an Associate Pastor responsible for Christian Education programming, Saturday mornings were vested in working with youth and church school teachers. I would do some last minute checks to make sure everything was ready for Sunday classes. The organist was busy rehearsing on the organ. The senior pastor was working on the sermon or perhaps, preparing for the next wedding or funeral. As a large church, we had a large program with lots of details to be juggled at all age levels. Worth mentioning, there were a host of church members cleaning and polishing in getting this sacred space, the church, ready for Sunday worship.
As years passed as a solo pastor in Evanston, Illinois and then Saginaw, Michigan, I found myself relaxing on Saturdays. While I would often be at the church doing a variety of things, it was not publicized that the church was open. In reflecting on this: MY LOSS!
Because my wife worked a typical Monday through Friday job, we found Saturdays were sacred time to be with each other as a couple doing ‘family-type’ things. As a pastor, there were always last minute calls that had to be made. Weddings and funerals were always part of the mix in working and doing ministry on Saturdays. Instead of holding regular office hours, I would meet with congregants by appointment—mostly in their homes. In recent years of ministry, to be honest, Saturdays were considered a day when the church was closed.
I wonder about the experience of others? How many of my clergy colleagues maintain office hours on Saturday mornings? I wonder if I would have become a pastor had I not had some Saturday morning opportunities to mingle with the sacred.