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Going to Church When You Travel

Summer is here and so is the busiest travel season of the year. When you are traveling, whether visiting friends or going on a family vacation, do you attend church services? If not, you may be missing a unique opportunity to have a different kind of worship experience.

In recent years, my wife and I have made it a priority to attend worship services when we travel. In most churches, we have discovered the congregants to be friendly and welcoming, and the worship service to be positive and inspiring. And our vacations have been enriched because we took the time to attend church.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Oftentimes, people don’t think of going to church while traveling. Whether you are on a business trip, a vacation or simply visiting friends or family, going to church can be both educational and inspirational.
Travelers have many different options for going to church. Your travel schedule, your destination and your own spiritual interest may determine which option you choose.
One option is to attend a church of your own denominational background. Some people just feel more comfortable visiting a sister church of their own faith tradition. Most churches in resort areas or popular tourist towns invite visitors to “come as you are” so you don’t have to worry about taking along formal clothing.
Another option is to attend a church of a different denominational background. This is a good opportunity to learn more about your spiritual relatives who worship a little differently. If you have attended a church of the same denomination for many years, your vacation may present a unique opportunity to become acquainted with a different faith tradition.
Visiting an historic church is another good option. When visiting a large city, foreign country or historic area, attending mass at an ancient cathedral or attending worship services at a historic chapel may prove to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
If your vacation involves camping, you may attend a campground service. You will find that many campgrounds and RV parks offer informal worship services at pavilions or outdoor amphitheaters.
Try tuning in to a worship service on the radio if you are traveling on Sunday or are “on the frontier.” Once, when we were traveling in a rented motor home in the heart of Alaska, there were no churches on our route. Although we had to search for a while, we found that a local church broadcast was the “next best thing to being there.”
Some families enjoy having their own worship service while on the road. The family may sing songs together and then family members take turns reading scriptures and leading in prayer. A family-led worship service can take place right in your hotel room or at your campsite.
Going to church while on the road can enrich both your trip and your personal faith. Just skipping church because you are on vacation or a business trip can rob you of meeting new friends and meeting God in new places.
Barry Howard is senior minister of First Baptist Church in Corbin, Ky.