The majority of us take churches for granted but there was a time when the church was the epicenter of a community. Each and every community had their own church which served the religious and administrative needs of the community it was built in.
During the late 1700’s to early 1900’s churches came in a variety of shapes and sizes. When Europeans came to North America, they would bring along with them the designs of their church. The Spanish had their own design style and the French, for example had their own design preferences. While all churches deliver the same religious message, their designs vary greatly.
If you went to Santa Fe, New Mexico, the churches there would look very different from the ones you would find in Boston even though they were both Christian churches.
Builders of the Church
The building of the various churches was sponsored by the Vatican in some part plus contributions from the local community. Typically the Vatican would send clergy who would help the community observe the various religious sacraments and the community would build the physical church. Most churches were built by the immigrants in the various communities. Since the church was the societal center of the community it was usually the largest, most prominent building in the area. Builders would go through great pains, using the best quality materials when building the church. This high-quality construction is why a considerable number of churches are still standing even after 100+ years of serving the community.
Churches have served as the religious heart of a community but the range of services churches offer not restricted to religion, one of the primary goals of the church is to serve humanity as a whole. When a person hears the word “church”, visions of church pews and a priest delivering a sermon may come to mind but that is just the tip of the iceberg.
What do Churches Offer?
Each congregation will have its own specific mandate on how it will spread the gospel and serve humanity. While the range of services varies, we will cover some of the more common ways that local communities can benefit from the church. It should be noted that all of these benefits are for the public; there is no need to be a follower of the Christian faith to access these facilities.
- Affordable clothing. The church typically conducts clothing drives where parishioners are asked to donate good quality clothing they are no longer using. This clothing is then offered to the economically disadvantaged in the area for free or greatly reduced prices. The clothing could help an individual dress up for a job interview or provide them with adequate warmth during the winter. Some recipients include young children who require clothing for school that their parents simply cannot afford to procure on their own.
- Soup Kitchen & Food Bank. Jesus Christ was known for feeding the poor and that tradition is still followed in churches around the world. The church will pass around pamphlets in front of the church pews informing the public about the soup kitchen and food bank services being offered. The pamphlet would ask the reader if they have the means to donate and if they are in need the facility is available. Individuals who were hungry or experiencing food insecurity could go to the soup kitchen and eat a warm meal. Along with having access to warm meals, the food bank can help offset some of the anxiety caused by food insecurity.
- Affordable daycare services. Most families have two working parents and finding affordable daycare is not always an option. There are churches that offer daycare services that meet or exceed standards set by the government. While these childcare centers are not for profit, they typically do not receive any funding from the government so all operating costs are bared by the parents. Since the church is sensitive to the economic woes facing working parents, the costs of childcare and daycare are kept to a minimum. Some components of the daycare/childcare services may have elements of religion built into them i.e. Sunday school so parents will need to take that into consideration when deciding on whether to enroll his/her child.
Since the church is trying to help relief suffering and foster a sense of community. Everyone should familiarize themselves with the full range of services offered by the church, you will be amazed to find out what is available.
Regula is known as the rule of life, and it is something that many people try to work toward as a part of the way that they move forward. Many churches look at the idea of regula and try to make it a standard part of the church – but at times, this could end up being quite a difficult thing to be able to achieve. Many people attribute regula, or rules of life, exclusively to Benedict and those who live in monasteries. This couldn’t be further from the truth; Benedictine rules of life can be useful in any context, as long as it stays true to rules of life. Devotion to God and spiritual growth are to be at the core of any regula.
There is an extensive time commitment to the regula, as there should be. The intention of a program that is based in regula is to make these spiritual disciplines a regular part of a person’s life. As these things become engrained in a person’s life, they are more likely to understand what the true Christian walk is. With the mentoring aspect of this rule of life, students have the option to continue being a part of the regula even after graduation.
While it can take time to sort this out, it can often be a huge benefit to those who are looking to work toward the practice and move forward. You can, many times, start to see a difference and make out the things that you need to know as a part of it. Regula may sound like it is something that is quite complicated but, when all is said and done, it can become a part of the routine that people live, making their lives feel a lot more fulfilled than ever before.