I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite some time, but I’m just now getting to it. I suppose I can blame real life, which is just now settling into some sort of routine. But anyway on with the post.
While I was attending BYU-Idaho my parents (dad and step-mom) moved to Maine. My new home is in an extremely little town about 45 mins from Canada. When it came close to graduation, and I knew I’d be moving home for a few weeks before taking off on the great post-grad journey of life, I logged onto my LDS account to search for the closest meetinghouse. You can imagine my surprise when I discovered the closest one was nearly two hours away and in Canada! I quickly tried to see if there were ANY meetinghouses in Maine. The closest one to me, in my state (and in the US), was four hours away!
I had no idea how I was going to get to church. I’m the only member in my family, so I’d have to borrow the car, but we only have one. I’d have to get a passport or, at the very least, a passport card. Not to mention the cost of gas for getting to and from church. It seemed an impossible feat. My parents would have no problem lending me the car for church if it was just down the road, and I knew my dad would be willing to drop me off if I couldn’t have the car for three hours.
So then my other option was to just not go. To skip church. But then I began to think about how if I was actually living at home there’d have to be some sort of alternative option. There are church members everywhere! Surely, not everyone hopped in the car and trotted off to Canada. There had to be another option even if there was no meetinghouse. But what? I didn’t even know where to begin looking. How did I find other members near me in Maine?
I ended up only being home for one Sunday and that was the day my little brother was to report for bootcamp, so I went with my family to drop him off in Portland. Which was a very long drive, but worth it for my brother. So in my case, problem solved. Time to move on because I was moving to the booming city of New York. There were bound to be lots of nearby meetinghouses and wards for me to choose from. Wrong. I happened to have the misfortune of living just outside the city. It was easier for me to take a train into Manhattan, board the subway, and then walk the few blocks to the meetinghouse than finding one outside of the city that would require a car. It was a 15 minute walk to the train station, the train ride to Grand Central was about a half hour, then another 20 minutes on the subway, if I managed to get on a car right away, and then a 10 minute walk to the building. But that was still easier than traveling to Canada, but the total cost for a round trip to church in New York was around $20.
I then had to pick and choose when I went to church because I didn’t have enough money to go every Sunday. But once again plans changed and I hopped on a bus to West Virginia to stay with my grandmother. I’d have access to a vehicle and a meetinghouse. Going to church would be easy. Or, well, easier. It’s still a bit of a drive and if I was actually going to go to the YSA ward I’d have to go about two hours away. But still, this is easier than Canada, or the $20 a Sunday in New York.
But I still wonder about us Mormons in small towns. About those of us that just cannot feasibly make it to church because it’s several hours away or in another country. And I know it’s not even that difficult for us in America. How are we supposed to gain members if they can’t even attend church meetings? How is anyone meant to keep active when you don’t even know if there are any other members living near you? Because there’s apparently not enough to have a meetinghouse. Do they meet in homes? Do they still partake of the sacrament? Is there a hand shake or a signal I don’t know about so I can spot other members in small towns? There’s got to be more of us out there, living in tiny towns. So what do we do?