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A Letter from the Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

How is an Amusement Park Like a Church?
July 18, 2019

Amusement parks of all sizes have grown in number and size all over the world in the past 120 years. Interestingly, their proliferation has been historically linked to the Industrial Revolution that began to provide working people with more leisure time. In 2019, there are hundreds of amusement and theme parks in the United States.

Some of the parks are bigger and more famous than others. But they all have one thing in common: we go there to enjoy time away from work and to simply have fun. Enjoying the rides, games, food, and noisy bustle requires us to leave our adult worries at the gate and enter a world where everyone can become a child again.

I recently enjoyed a Pennsylvania theme park with my four-year-old grand daughter. Several hours of rides, games, food, and excitement still provided my active pastor’s mind with some food for thought. So here is my question: How IS an amusement park like (and not like) a church?

These are my thoughts!  What occurs to you?

Finally, maybe one of the best things about amusement and theme parks is that we get to be children again. Yes, the time comes, as Paul tells the Church in Corinth to “put an end to childish ways.” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NRSV) Within our congregations, we should be “growing up” in our understanding and practice of those who follow Jesus Christ.

But Jesus also said these words:

He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4 NRSV)

Take time this summer to become like a child, wherever your summer days of rest may take you!

Faithfully,



The Rev. Dr. Beverly W. James, Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery

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