The Church of Saint John the Baptist Episcopal

This church was a bit of a mystery to me when I found it back in 2021. The Church of Saint John the Baptist Episcopal is located on a pleasant street in Dunkirk, New York. I stumbled upon it while exploring the area around Jamestown in 2021.

I had gone to Jamestown for the Lucille Ball attractions and was out planning to see other things including a statue to the native son who created comic strip canine Marmaduke.

The slate roof of the church drew me right in and down Fourth Street for a closer look.

The front doors are gorgeous and inviting, adorned with festive Easter wreaths.

And yet, look up to find a broken window directly above the doors. Did they not know the window had been broken?

The church seemed well cared for with its pretty wreaths and some nicely tended spring bulbs in the side yard. They had Easter services just a couple of weeks before my visit. Surely someone would have been by to notice and at least board up the window.

I’m dying to known what’s going on there now but their Facebook page hasn’t been updated in over a year. I’ll have to cruise by if I’m ever in the neighborhood. Then again, maybe I’m better off not knowing. I may not like the answer.

Grand old churches like this one are at risk in towns and neighborhoods across the nation. Between growing maintenance and operations costs, aging congregations and the lure of big churches with community center type facilities, it’s hard for a simple House of the Lord to keep going. I see them all the time empty, run down, and often sold for cheap housing. It’s a sad fate but a very real one.

This church reminded me of a sweet old grandmother with a lot of life left in her, much wisdom and warm hugs to share despite a prominent broken tooth.

Here’s hoping she is getting the care she deserves and that the doors are still open for those who need a place to go for spiritual guidance.


Today is Saturday.

Yesterday, you said tomorrow. Whatever it was, don’t say tomorrow for even one more day. Skip the excuses and do the thing.

You may be surprised at how good it feels. Besides, tomorrow you’ll wish you had started today.

This Is Why We Adventure

Walking down the street in Piqua, Ohio, I stumbled onto an old Episcopal Church made of stone and adorned with gorgeous stained glass. A pickup truck out front served as work space for two locals who had removed the church’s antique front doors for repair.

After stopping to ask if it was ok to go inside, I climbed the front steps and passed through the opening where large red doors with enormous ornate hardware should have been.

Natural light flooded through colorful stained glass in all directions, giving the sanctuary an almost other worldly feeling. That alone was worth the visit but I was greeted by another surprise, a man playing the piano with the confidence and grace of a trained concert pianist. I stayed for just a few minutes but he never stopped playing, agilely transitioning from one song into another without a break.

Normally I would say that churches are best enjoyed in solitude but having this space filled with extraordinary music made the experience so very special.

I chatted with one of the woodworkers on the way out and learned that the pianist is known around town, always scruffy, always carrying the nap sack I saw resting next to the piano, and possibly homeless. This possibility made me sad. The thought of anyone being homeless is horrible and it seems such a shame that a person with this kind of talent would be down on his luck.

It was a good reminder to not judge a person or place, especially when you don’t know the entire story. The woman I spoke with said that she sees him around town but was amazed when he showed up one day and began playing song after song.

This is why I wander small town side streets and backroads It is these peaks behind the curtain and the surprises around the corner that make it worthwhile. The glimpse inside the church and the powerful gift of song from someone that locals know as a street person made my day. It gives me cause to keep going, to keep looking for the secrets that our world holds and to keep looking around the next bend.