Centennial Moments

Researched & Written by David Goeke


KEEPING THEIR DISTANCE

If one doubts that worship practices have changed since the early days of the Texas District-LCMS, try to picture this. As recently as 50 years ago, one may well walk into a worship service on a given Sunday morning and find all of the women seated on one side and all the men on the other side. At St. Paul Lutheran Church, Serbin, Texas, the oldest church of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in Texas, women sat downstairs, men sat upstairs and the younger folk sat near the altar. Surrounding churches didn't have two stories, so the genders were "split down the middle", so to speak. This custom was not unique to Lutherans . The practice could be found in other denominations also. Nor was it unique to a particular era. The practice dated back for centuries. The origin of the practice is arguable and time will not be spent here trying to explain it. The fact is, however, that it occurred. No doubt a goodly number of those reading this narrative will remember those days. Some Lutheran Churches also served Holy Communion first to the men and then to the women. In some rural Texas District congregations, these practices continued into the 1950's. With the advent of technology and of cultural change, "splitting the difference" where gender was concerned, came to an end.