I like to use this space to tell happy stories. There’s so much negativity in the world that I prefer to spend my energy sharing good vibes. Today is an exception to the rule.
Unexpected free time yesterday led me out on a hike and a little drive down a country road where I found a church that will haunt me for a long time. It’s abandoned. Falling in. Broken and probably beyond repair. To add insult to injury, I suspect there’s no one interested in stabilizing the place, much less fixing it up.
Located on a ridge top with a well tended cemetery in back, the church was once beautiful. Today there’s a padlock on the doors and plywood on the windows.
I walked through the cemetery and then the perimeter of the church and was able to see inside a broken window from the cemetery yard. There is a beautiful old piano that I’m guessing was too heavy to move when they cleared out everything else. They left the light fixtures but took the cross – you can still see the impression on the wall.
There are a couple of old chairs and, through the window, I could tell it still smells like church. You know what I mean? Churches always have a unique smell.
It was the saddest thing I’ve seen in a long time.
Churches are the heartbeat of any community, especially rural communities where there’s little else to bring people together. The sign out front says 1848 so you have to wonder what this little country church has seen, the comfort it has given and the joy that once reverberated throughout.
Children were baptized here. They grew up in the pews and maybe knelt in prayer at the altar. Couples cried tears of joy as they celebrated their nuptials on that altar. And families gathered in sorrow at the funerals of people who grew old within these walls.
A lot of living and growing and praying and dying went on here.
In case you’re wondering, I’m not criticizing whoever owns this church or whoever contributed to it ending up in this state. It is a very old building. Plus, I don’t know the circumstances and I’m not in a position to to help so criticism is inappropriate.
I’m just sad.
It makes me wonder about the fate of so many other quaint community churches that are suffering from an aging congregation and dwindling attendance. I see a lot of them in my travels. Many of them are being closed and sold so they can be reinvented as homes and businesses. Others are just abandoned.
I’ve been on the fence about repurposing churches but I have picked a side. I would much rather see a church building given a second chance at life as someone’s home than see it slowly deteriorate and suffer a fate like this.