Sundays in America

Sundays in America

A Yearlong Road Trip in Search of Christian Faith

Book - 2008
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Random House, Inc.
When Pope John Paul II died, Suzanne Strempek Shea, who had not been an active member of a church community for some years, recognized in his mourners a faith-filled passion that she longed to recapture in her own life. Shea, never one to do things in a conventional manner or by halves, set out on a pilgrimage to visit a different church every Sunday for a year-a journey that would take her through the broad spectrum of contemporary protestant Christianity practiced in this country.

She began with a rousing Baptist Easter service in Harlem, traveled to Colorado's Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for a sing-along service at the Cowboy Church, and flew to Houston for a multimedia experience at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, the largest church in the country. She sat with the Shakers, and-in silence-with the Quakers; she sang often, danced, and even drew on one memorable occasion. Shea approached each congregation with the curiosity of a newcomer and with respect for each unique expression of faith, whether the sanctuary was a multimillion-dollar extravaganza, a centuries-old edifice, an abandoned building, or even an airport chapel.

In her tour of more than thirty states, including Hawaii, Shea: * Knocked knees with President Jimmy Carter at his Plains, Georgia, Baptist church on Independence Day. * Joined the band at a San Francisco African Orthodox church that considers jazz legend John Coltrane a bona fide saint. * Got a wake-up call from Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham's preacher daughter, at a sprawling conservative church in South Carolina. * Followed the signs for a hot tub dealership that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has become a new Presbyterian church in Mississippi. * Collected tips on The Purpose Driven Life from Rick Warren at his famed Saddleback Church complex. * Knocked on the door of the Jehovah's Witnesses in Portland, Oregon. * Shared a pew with Milwaukee Bucks star Michael Redd at the Columbus, Ohio, church he purchased for his dad. * Had her feet washed by a Seventh-Day Adventist at a church in Connecticut. * Attended a three-hour service featuring speaking in tongues, faith healing, and dancing in the aisle at a Foursquare Gospel church. * Toured Joseph Smith's birthplace in Vermont and worshipped with his Mormon followers.

Sundays in America is an essential guide for those seeking a new house for their worship as well as a colorful road trip for the armchair explorer, providing a vivid perspective on the practice and meaning of Christian faith as it is practiced throughout our land.

Houghton
When Pope John Paul II died, Suzanne Strempek Shea, who had not been an active member of a church community for some years, recognized in his mourners a faith-filled passion that she longed to recapture in her own life. Shea, never one to do things in a conventional manner or by halves, set out on a pilgrimage to visit a different church every Sunday for a year—a journey that would take her through the broad spectrum of contemporary protestant Christianity practiced in this country.

She began with a rousing Baptist Easter service in Harlem, traveled to Colorado’s Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for a sing-along service at the Cowboy Church, and flew to Houston for a multimedia experience at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, the largest church in the country. She sat with the Shakers, and—in silence—with the Quakers; she sang often, danced, and even drew on one memorable occasion. Shea approached each congregation with the curiosity of a newcomer and with respect for each unique expression of faith, whether the sanctuary was a multimillion-dollar extravaganza, a centuries-old edifice, an abandoned building, or even an airport chapel.

In her tour of more than thirty states, including Hawaii, Shea: * Knocked knees with President Jimmy Carter at his Plains, Georgia, Baptist church on Independence Day. * Joined the band at a San Francisco African Orthodox church that considers jazz legend John Coltrane a bona fide saint. * Got a wake-up call from Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s preacher daughter, at a sprawling conservative church in South Carolina. * Followed the signs for a hot tub dealership that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, has become a new Presbyterian church in Mississippi. * Collected tips on The Purpose Driven Life from Rick Warren at his famed Saddleback Church complex. * Knocked on the door of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Portland, Oregon. * Shared a pew with Milwaukee Bucks star Michael Redd at the Columbus, Ohio, church he purchased for his dad. * Had her feet washed by a Seventh-Day Adventist at a church in Connecticut. * Attended a three-hour service featuring speaking in tongues, faith healing, and dancing in the aisle at a Foursquare Gospel church. * Toured Joseph Smith’s birthplace in Vermont and worshipped with his Mormon followers.

Sundays in America is an essential guide for those seeking a new house for their worship as well as a colorful road trip for the armchair explorer, providing a vivid perspective on the practice and meaning of Christian faith as it is practiced throughout our land.

"Do you believe in miracles? You will after you read Sundays in America. This book will lift you up. If you've stopped going to church on Sundays, it will lasso your lost faith. If you've never left, it will remind you of why you gather, why you pray, why you're part of the flock. Suzanne Strempek Shea writes with soul, straight from her heart; this book was just what I needed to read." —Luanne Rice, author of What Matters Most

"Sundays in America is unlike any other book you’ll ever read. While born and raised Roman Catholic, Suzanne Shea invites us to accompany her on a yearlong pilgrimage of weekly services in non-Catholic Christian churches. As I did so, I found myself taken on an extraordinarily delightful and insightful spiritual journey that helped me see the face of religion in America more clearly; love the diverse faces of believers and non-believers more dearly; and follow the Holy Spirit she found everywhere more nearly. Like all pilgrimages, this will one will enlighten you and change your life too; and, I might add, you will not find a pilgrim guide more fun to be with than Suzanne Shea." —Karol Jackowski, author of Forever and Ever, Amen: Becoming a Nun in the 1960s

"Sundays in America does for us what most of us cannot do for ourselves: it puts us in the pews of dozens of churches all across America as an 'inside outsider' to contemporary Christianity. Like found sea glass, Shea holds each church up to the light to test its veracity, color, and dimension. This book is for anyone looking to understand, evaluate, or reignite their Christian faith through the prism of curiosity and the spirit of exploration." —Kristin Hahn, author of In Search of Grace: A Journey Across America's Landscape of Faith

"I can think of no better companion on a spiritual journey than Suzanne Strempek Shea. In Sundays in America, with her trademark humor and grace, she takes the reader's hand and shows us churches across the United States, pointing out the subtleties and details that we would otherwise have missed. Her devotion is memorable, her insights illuminating, her writing—as always—a gift." —Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle: A Novel

"Imagine visiting a different Christian church each Sunday morning for a year-anywhere in the United States! Suzanne Strempek Shea made just such a pilgrimage, and she shares her travels in Sundays in America: A Yearlong Road Trip in Searchhhhh of Christian Faith (Beacon). Her book is remarkable! Readers accompany Shea on each leg of her journey: from a rousing Baptist service in Harlem to a chapel at Denver International Airport. Stops in between include a silent Quaker service in Philadelphia, and a visit to Joel Osteen's megachurch in Houston. Suzanne Shea is the perfect guide. Her impressions of each church are both honest and respectful. She offers brief bits of church history, and occasional background to particular denominations. She generously shares her own struggles too. Shea is always insightful, and often quite humorous. I enjoyed the book immensely. I thank her for sharing her journeys-literal and spiritual, and for showing so clearly that there are unlimited paths to a single destination." —Chris Rose, Andover Bookstore, Book Sense nomination

“The interesting subject matter of your book, along with your compelling writing style, make Sundays in America a natural selection for one of our church book clubs or the adult Christian education class.” —Pastor Michael G. Sykes, Faith United Protestant Church, Park Forest, IL

“In five very evocative pages, Ms. Shea captures the spirit of MCC Richmond, and MCC churches across the globe, especially when she describes ‘the most touching Communion service I’ve ever witnessed.’ She describes 49 other churches, e.g., the might, Riverside Church in New York City; the well-known, Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, GA; the controversial, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago; and the small and unknown. She covers the ecclesiastical waterfront: Episcopal, Pentecostal, Holiness, Methodist, Nazarene, Seventh Day Adventist, Greek Orthodox, and more. We are in good company.” —Pastor Robin H. Gorsline, Metropolitan Community Church of Richmond, VA

“Cradle Catholic Shea was told that Protestants were going to hell, and so were she and her friends should they ever step inside a Protestant church. She felt no urge to visit such churches until after a personal health scare and the death of John Paul II, when the passion of the mourners on her streets and TV impressed her. She had drifted away from the church but, fascinated by and a little jealous of the mourners’ intensity, began wondering about what lay beyond other churches’ doors. Her curiosity eventuated in this book. For one year she attended different non-Catholic services across the country—Methodist, Shaker, Quaker, Seventh-Day Adventist, interfaith, Mormon—in buildings ranging from unadorned chapels to huge megachurches. She wanted to learn what makes the denominations differ, and different from the Catholicism she was raised in. She visited Baptist churches in New York and South Carolina, a “cowboy” church in Colorado, a Quaker meetinghouse in Philadelphia, a Greek Orthodox church in Rhode Island, an evangelical church in New Hampshire, an Episcopal church in Hawaii. She stopped in at Barack Obama’s place of worship, Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, as well as 320-year-old King’s Chapel in Boston. It was for her and is for readers a captivating trip into the heart of non-Catholic Christian America that reveals the amazing diversity of one complex faith.” —June Sawyers, Booklist, starred review

A Book Sense nominated title.


Baker & Taylor
Moved by the funeral of Pope John Paul II, the award-winning novelist offers her observations on the Christian faith, following her yearlong pilgrimage of mostly Protestant churches around the United States.

Book News
Award winning Massachusetts novelist Shea grew up Catholic then drifted away from church. The 2005 funeral of John Paul II and a diagnosis of breast cancer made her wonder for the first time what so many people found in Christianity that she did not. She set out on a year-long tour of non-Catholic churches, mostly Protestant, around the US and lived to tell the tale. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
When Pope John Paul II died, Suzanne Strempek Shea, who had not been an active member of a church community for some years, recognized in his mourners a faith-filled passion that she longed to recapture in her own life. Shea, never one to do things in a conventional manner or by halves, set out on a pilgrimage to visit a different church every Sunday for a year - a journey that would take her through the broad spectrum of contemporary Protestant Christianity practiced in this country.
She began with a rousing Baptist Easter service in Harlem, traveled to Colorado's Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame for a sing-along service at the Cowboy Church, and flew to Houston for a multimedia experience at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church, the largest church in the country. She sat with the Shakers, and - in silence - with the Quakers; she sang often, danced, and even drew on one memorable occasion. Shea approached each congregation with the curiosity of a newcomer and with respect for each unique expression of faith, whether the sanctuary was a multimillion-dollar extravaganza, a centuries-old edifice, an abandoned building, or even an airport chapel.
Sundays in America is an essential guide for those seeking a new house for their worship as well as a colorful road trip for the armchair explorer, providing a vivid perspective on the meaning of Christian faith as it is practiced throughout our land.

Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, c2008
ISBN: 9780807072240
0807072249
Characteristics: xi, 313 p. ; 23 cm

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