All told, there were about 20 in attendance. Many of them were ministers in the United Church of Christ, others were board members or friends of the Library. I even had an attendee from Japan (the Rev. Yukimasa Ohmae), whose church in Kobe has special ties to Boston's Congregational past. Over the course of our time together I sketched both the book and why I had written it, and we then got into a wonderful discussion about the future of Mainline Protestantism, ranging from my arguments in the book, to the use of political labels to discuss spiritual matters, the importance of culture/experience to religious consumerism, to the findings of the recent Pew Study on Religious Affiliation (which may very well be the subject of a future blog post, once I get a chance to read deeper into it).
Simply put, though it was a whirlwind trip, it could not have gone better. I had a great time, the talk/discussion went perfectly, and I can only hope that the guests enjoyed it as much as I did! I can also only hope to have other such opportunities in the months ahead.
Above is Park Street Church (http://www.parkstreet.org/), which sits at "the bottom" of the hill that makes up Boston Common, about a block from both the Massachusetts statehouse and a block from the Congregational Library. It plays an important role in the story I tell in the Mainline, and so I couldn't resist taking a picture of it all lit up by the morning sun.