The good book is filled with stories of the Chosen turning away from the righteous path, only to be set back on the straight and narrow by any number of events.
It should, therefore, come as no surprise that, from time to time, a particular congregation's numbers decrease, as has happened in recent years at the St. George Spesutia Church in Perryman, the oldest Episcopal parish in Maryland.
The last service at the historic church (though the parish has been around since 1671, the church sanctuary that stands today was built in 1851) was Dec. 30. Though the historic final service drew a larger than usual crowd, it still numbered only about 35 worshipers.
A standard observation about the end of an era at St. George might well be that it's a sign of a time when people are turning away from faith, but such an observation would be off base. The Gallup Organization reports regular church attendance (weekly or almost weekly) has been up in recent years and has held in the 41 to 43 percent range in recent years.
The reality of the situation is that individual congregations wax and wane for a variety of reasons. There are plenty of churches around Maryland built by the faithful of one denomination that have since been taken over by adherents to other denominations.
It may well come to pass that years or decades from now, the St. George's sanctuary will be abuzz with a standing room only crowd, possibly in the Episcopal tradition, possibly of another calling.
Mysterious ways, indeed.