"I certainly think we should want to support motherhood; parenthood is the cornerstone of the family. We should be celebrating cultural rhythms liturgically. I think we can choose secular holidays to blur the line between secular and sacred, recognizing there's no place God isn't. But we really need to be holistic in the way that we celebrate, and realize that we can hold in tension the wonder of what motherhood is as well as the challenges and some of the grief. That's the best of worship—when we have that kind of paradox."
Sally Morgenthaler, author, Worship Evangelism
"In our culture, these really are significant days when we honor dads and moms. Mother's Day is almost like the elephant in the room—and important to acknowledge, to break down this secular-sacred divide that is sometimes so much a part of religious life in America. Because that is on people's minds, and the rest of the day will certainly be spent honoring mothers and thanking God for mothers—whether still alive or no longer with us—that's certainly something to lift up in the worship service."
Kurt Fredrickson, associate dean, Fuller Theological Seminary
"Churches should seize upon any opportunity to honor the profession of motherhood (or fatherhood for that matter). There's no harm in churches taking a moment to show respect to the parents and grandparents who have participated in the healthy, God-ordained activity of rearing children."
Brett McCracken, author, Hipster Christianity
"On Sunday morning you have 500 cars driving to church. You have 100 people who are angry when they think of mothers, and a lot of people all mixed up together. It's not just a connecting point with culture, but it's giving voice to these rather deep experiences that people have. That's one of the main functions of worship in general, and that ought to be happening every week. It just happens that on Mother's Day it's dominant in people's minds."
John D. Witvliet, director, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
"Mother's Day, even if it's a good holiday and a good remembrance, is a consumerist holiday like Valentine's Day. I think there's a lot of good in celebrating motherhood, but I'd want to ask some further questions about how we order time in general. If Mother's Day and a distinctively Christian holiday fall in the same day it might be good to honor both, to make sure we're thinking through how we order our time and not simply catering to the whims of the consumerist culture we're in."
Trevin Wax, associate pastor, First Baptist Church, Shelbyville, Tenn,
"Churches should acknowledge it, because it's such a big deal to so many families that it would be a gaping hole if the pastor didn't mention it. But churches should be really careful about not making it the central theme of the service, and also not focusing all the attention on the moms. There are a lot of women who aren't mothers, either by choice or not. When you hold up mothers in this very public way it can be very painful for people who don't have kids, even if it's their choice, but especially if it's not. Churches need to be very aware of welcoming all types of families and people."
Ellen Painter Dollar, author, No Best Choice
"Focusing an entire service on Mother's Day on mothers becomes problematic, because you are taking the focus away from God and could be doing pastoral damage—to those who don't have good relationships with their mothers; those whose mothers have passed away; those who want to be moms but can't be moms. When we do mention it, we need to be very careful. Comments and pastoral prayers can recognize mothers and at the same time recognize those who live with hurt related to their own mothers or motherhood."
Joyce Borger, editor, Reformed Worship
"Maybe there are women out there who love it—if a woman is not feeling particularly honored, maybe it is a nice thing. The other side for me is the cult of the family, where motherhood tends to get so elevated in churches that it's above all else. I think sometimes that's the knee-jerk response, to make it the highest and holiest of callings for women. That's one of the problems—if it wasn't seen that way, it would be better to celebrate." Caryn Rivadeneira, author, Mama's Got a Fake I.D.
"I think one of today's threats to theology in my part of the church is not fundamentalism, it's sentimentalism. And Mother's Day, which as far as I can tell is a boondoggle created by florists, appears to be just another occasion to say, 'Well now, Christianity is feeling something mushy in your heart. Christianity is mainly feeling something emotional, sentimental, about something.' And we all tend to get kind of sentimental about our mothers."
William Willimon, Bishop, North Alabama conference of the United Methodist Church
"No, they shouldn't. 'Who is my mother? Who is my father?' We're supposed to do the will of God. The problem with Mother's Day is it's a celebration of an assumed sacrificial role that underwrites family life in a manner that can easily become a form of idolatry, to the extent it makes the family what Christianity is all about. Therefore I think it's a very doubtful cultural expression in our context."
Stanley Hauerwas, professor of theological ethics, Duke Divinity School
Previous topics for discussion included incorporating churches, whether evangelicals are doing a good job at racial integration, whether Christians should leave the American Medical Association, the most significant change in Christianity over the past decade, whether the Supreme Court should rule that memorial crosses are secular, multisite campuses vs. church plants, and whether Christians should fast during Ramadan with Muslims.