Sunday, May 14, 2017

The Middle of Nowhere

My earliest recollections of going to church center around the Pierce Chapel Methodist Church located not too far from Laura Walker State Park which is near Waycross, Georgia.  It was then and continues to be a small country church.  There was a very small sanctuary, two rooms attached like an afterthought, an outhouse, and a cemetery.  Getting there required driving through a black water branch that always flowed over the dirt road, or driving up a long clay hill which got slick on cloudy days. 
I never thought much about why we went there while growing up, but as an adult the pieces fell into place.  Back then there were small farms with families who worked them all around the church.  Both my mother and father grew up in the nearby countryside.  When my father died, he was buried in the church cemetery along with his mother and father and a host of others to whom we claimed kin.  Later on I would discover that some of our family shared in giving the land for the church and its cemetery.  After his death and our move back to Waycross, we would spend most Sunday afternoons out in that countryside at the old home place with uncles and aunts and a host of cousins before going to church there on Sunday night.
Only as I have gotten older have I come to understand something of the pull such places have on folks.  These churches out in the middle of nowhere have a rich of history of holy work which has touched not one, but several generations.  Those who sat in the pews back then were likely to remember grandparents and other relatives who sat in the same places enduring the preaching and singing the songs of faith.  These churches which are slowly disappearing before our eyes connected us to God and our faith in Christ, but they also connected us to a rich heritage of believers who bore the same name and claimed one another as blood kin.  While I am thankful for such places, it saddens me to know they are all but extinct.

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