On Roads Less Traveled, Spirituality Takes Flight

August 14, 2005

Author: Christine McConville

Source: The Boston Globe


Pastor Anthony Milas has a big problem: his parish in Salem, N.H., keeps growing.

The 30-year-old church on Sand Hill Road can no longer handle the growing congregation of about 700 people, and after shopping around in vain for a larger place to worship, Milas has decided to raise $1.4 million to build a church that's big enough for the entire flock.

At a time when headlines are dominated by the closing of Catholic churches, and community leaders are wondering about the toll that Sunday morning athletic contests are taking on religion, Milas and other religious leaders say they are in the midst of a religious revival.

''It's been phenomenal," Milas said of his church's growth. When he joined the church almost nine years ago, he said, a good service would draw 70 people.

Edmund Gibbs of the Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., said similar revivals are occurring in pockets across the country. In his travels over the past year interviewing religious leaders in the United States and United Kingdom, Gibbs said he found that growing churches focus more on human relationships and less on rituals.