A pastor without a car?

A similar post, like Wednesday’s. Musing on a reality that “might ought could” (as we say in the South) be examined, even challenged.

Is it practically possible, say, in a larger city or even a  large college town, to pastor a church without a car? I’m not sure it is. It assumes your home, church and most parishioners — not to mention civic events — are conveniently clustered, or accessed by reliable (and Sunday-serving) transit.

And a shame, too. Car ownership is a huge cost — and car maintenance a financial crap shoot. My husband and I haven’t had a car in six or seven years, and have saved a bundle, and that’s considering the occasional car rental or cab.

Reimbursements only go so far. I hear so much from ministerial colleagues about student debt and making ends meet. A car-free ministry would be a big help.

But, does anyone here do it?


Silver Line opens; new way to Dulles Airport

Photo, courtesy, Jonathan Padget.
Photo, courtesy, Jonathan Padget.

So, my husband and I rode to the eastern terminus of the Washington Metro Silver Line on opening day yesterday. This is the first new subway — really, an elevated line — since 1991, and it goes through and past Tysons Corner, a local byword for big shopping malls, wide highways and mammoth office blocks. And until now, access by car or difficult bus connections. The plans for the future include more residents, and replacing an old-style suburban built environment with one more urban. But that’ll take many years.

As, indeed the rest of the planned, but not yet built, Phase 2 of the Silver Line. At least that’s scheduled for 2018, and not decades away. But the reason I suspect most in-town Washingtonians want to ride the Silver Line is to reach Dulles Airport, but that station is in Phase 2.

But the options to Dulles have improved.

The old “medium cheap” brown Washington Flyer bus — that only came in as far as East Falls Church Metro station — has been replaced by a blue Silver Line Express, to the Wiehle-Reston East station, the current terminus. It’s a shorter run, and also cheaper at $5.

2014-07-26 14.20.24
The Silver Line Express waiting at Wiehle-Reston East

Here are some notes:

When you arrive at Wiehle-Rest East, well, you’re really in a parking and bus transfer center. The station is in the median of the major arterial Dulles Toll Road, and so there’s no direct access.  Go up the adjacent escalator, turn right out the enclosed vestibule. You’re now in an open-air plaza; turn right again. About thirty feet or so ahead is a path; look left. You will see a covered foot bridge over the Dulles Toll Road to the station ticketing area. There you can buy your fare; I’d recommend getting a SmarTrip card from one of the sales machine. You’ll save the cost of the card almost immediately, and spare yourself the trouble of fiddling with a paper fare card (for which there’s a $1 surcharge) and money. And there are discounts for using one.

Footbridge to the Metro station
Footbridge to the Metro station

Proceed though the gates, and down to the platform. and take any train.

Stand behind the bumpy edge on the platform.

When using escalators, stand on the right and walk on the left, unless it’s just packed solid.

On the return trip, just get on the bus. You’ll pay at the airport.


Bleg: inexpensive guest house or hotel near Harvard

Dear readers: A bleg: blog beg. Any ideas for an inexpensive guest house or hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts near Harvard or Mt. Auburn Cemetery?

I have a day coming where I can look some things up in the Universalist archives, and visit the graves of Hosea Ballou and John Murray. One to satisfy some questions (for later blogging) and the other as a pilgrimage.

Visiting Vermont: suggestions?

Greetings: the news about Irene and Vermont makes me want to visit the state for its history and charm. (Not particularly for leaf-peeping.)

Is there a better time this fall to avoid the foliage hounds — or at least the prices — and towns with Universalist churches that a particularly charming. And with this caveat: I’ve got a ton of Amtrak points, so I’ll probably be taking the Vermonter to Burlington, which with Montpelier, I’d like to see on their own. If at all possible, I’d like to use public buses.


The Queen Is Dead, Silver Jubilee

Pfft to James Joyce. Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of the third album by The Smiths, “The Queen Is Dead.” (Thanks to Sunlighters past and present for the info.) It’s hard to think of an album that makes as much a daily impact upon me. Gen-Xers, do I tell the truth?

And while I love “Bigmouth Strikes Again” “Frankly, Mr. Shankly”  “Some Girls Are Bigger than Others” and “The Boy with the Thorn in His Side” (2 Corinthians 12:7?) the one song I’d rescue from a burning building is “There Is a Light that Never Goes Out.”

There have to be other couples who get sappy and affectionate at the thought of being crushed by a double-decker bus because of this song.

(For you David Tennant fans, and those who didn’t get the “Viva Laughlin” reference during NPH and Hugh Jackman’s duet on the Tonys. This is from “Viva Blackpool” (US)/”Blackpool” (UK) from which it was based.)

Rapture post 3: in the Metro

"Judgement Day May 21" illuminated sign

I saw this illuminated sign, announcing today’s scheduled rapture, in a D.C. Metro station about a month ago.

It’s worth recalling in case someone tries to make too much of an ad campaign — say by atheists and sceptics — using the local public transportation system.

WMATA on Google Transit

Today, D.C.’s transit hounds get what once thought impossible: the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA; “Metro”) is on Google Transit, a service that integrates maps and service schedules. It is available for dozens of other services worldwide.

So now it’s possible to plot driving, walking and transit trips in the area. Other, smaller transit agencies had participated in the system, but not WMATA, which is by far the largest in the area, leading to absurd routings through remote counties on commuter buses. Or, more frequently, no option at all.

It’s far from perfect — one search I made suggested I ride one of those commuter buses for two stops; a five minute walk and wholly impractical — to change to a Metrobus.

But it’s service that I’ll use, and hope Washington’s visitors enjoy.

Commuting to church: D.C., elsewhere tool

The folk wisdom about getting to church is that people will go as far to a church as they will go to work. That makes commuting data important for church plants, but failing that assume that someone won’t take more than a half-hour to get there.

There’s a new interesting tool that maps how far someone in Washington, D.C. and a few other cities — Boston, Seattle, Dallas, New York and Chicago, among others; and Berlin, London, Auckland and Perth overseas — can get in a certain amount of time on foot and using transit. Important, too, because I have a hard time thinking the suburban “temple in a sea of asphalt” will fare well in a city, or that even near-suburban congregations can depend on this unfortunate staples of American religious life. (That said, it’s been more than a decade since I was a member of church that I had to drive to, so I’m a bit of an outlier.)

Enough for the lead-in; the resource is Mapnificent, or to start directly with Washington, D.C.

Visiting D.C.

The tourists are coming to Washington, D.C., and despite the recession I can imagine numbers will be high. Once you’re here and housed, it is a remarkably cheap place to visit with the leading destinations free to the public.

So I have a request of local residents and recent visitors: what would you recommend to other newcomers? What often-missed site would you commend? What resource?

My contribution:

  • People miss the FDR Memorial — a shame, but it isn’t close to public transit. If you have reluctant walkers, take a cab from Foggy Bottom or Farragut North Metro and use the FDR Memorial as a jumping-off point to visit the Jefferson Memorial or the Lincoln Memorial.
  • The usual tour of the Holocaust Memorial is a long, emotionally-taxing experience, and — I may get some flak here — not for kids. Particularly sensitive souls might consider bypassing the main, time-ticketed exhibit for the children’s exhibit, the remembrance hall and whatever special exhibit there is.
  • The Renwick Gallery — near the White House — is an underrated art museum; is a part of the Smithsonian and is free of charge. Be sure to catch the demonstration de jour in Lafayette Square, adjacent.
  • The National Building Museum is another fun site: right on the Metro Red Line (Judiciary Square) and a short walk from Chinatown, which offers better food options than the Smithsonian museums.
  • When riding Metro, please, please, please stand on the right side of the escalator.

Your ideas?