Bible Study Leader

Andy King

Attendance

5

Bible Study Length

1 hour

Sample Worshipper Dress

white short-sleeve, lace-patterned shirt, black pants

Spiral Staircases

1

Famous Swedenborgians

Helen Keller

Congregational Fervor

Completed in 1896, the Church of the Holy City can comfortably seat hundreds of worshippers as they honor God through the teachings of Swedish scientist and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg. Whether it ever has is another matter. “The congregation has never been big enough to fill the space,” King says. “At our largest, we number about 25 people.” Still, the church makes a great effort to connect with the Swedenborgian diaspora via a church Web site and discussion board. “We prefer to call them remote members,” King says.

Food for the Soul

Due to the lack of a full-time minister and a sharp drop in attendance during the summer months, church members have been holding a Sunday Bible study instead of a full service. A recent session focused on a discussion of John 6:35, in which Christ announces that he is “the bread of life.” The idea was proposed that bread is symbolic of love. “Maybe that’s why I’ve put on 50,000 pounds in the past five years—because I’ve needed love,” remarked one woman.

Food for the Body

Although a freshly baked peach cake was on hand, beverage options were limited. A half-consumed gallon jug of spring water was the only option for thirsty congregants.

Overall Worship Power

As satisfying as peach cake may be, it’s no substitute for transubstantiation. With all the morning’s talk of bread and no minister in sight, study group members waxed nostalgic about their first communions. “I only remember there was a big deal over what dress and veil I was going to wear,” remembered one woman. Another related a less orthodox tale: “One time I found a bag of chips that looked like the host. I lined up my brothers and sisters to take communion from me—I wanted to be the priest.”

—Aaron Leitko