When Steeples Cry is a book about embodiment, yours and mine. It is not meant to be a "how-to-book," but it envisions you being a different kind of leader to your community. Written primarily, but not exclusively, for church leaders and those seminarians who will serve in mainline Protestant churches, When Steeples Cry identifies the work of mourning as a significant aspect of being a church leader in North America today. Leading your congregation towards gratitude, gladness, and praise, to rebuild ruins and to be a "tree of righteousness" is a difficult call. This book explores the diverse nature of loss occurring in North American church contexts: numerical, relationship, material, identity, functional, role, and systemic losses, and suggests how to grieve loss well and move on from it in healthy, life-giving ways.
The United Methodist Church (USA) has lost more than 3.3 million members. The Presbyterian Church (USA) has lost more than 2.3 million members since 1971. The Episcopal Church (USA) has lost more than 1.1 million members. The Evangelical Lutheran Church (USA) has lost more than 540,000 members, including a loss of 61,871 members between 2001-"2002. Forty-five churches closed their doors in 2002. The majority of North American Protestant congregations and denominations, says Hamman, have experienced significant losses since the 1960s. Moreover, the dynamic and growing churches that are changing their traditions experience the loss of what was familiar to them. In many churches, losses past and present remain unnamed and unmourned.