|Grace Methodist beautifies a city that |
(in its old core) is already rather
pretty despite some noisy cars, North
Augusta, South Carolina. (Just across
the Savanna River from the famous
Be that as it may -- and I still don't like hard wooden pews -- I'm coming to appreciate the beauty of traditional church buildings, and how they redeem a landscape.
|Talking with a gentleman at |
Grace Methodist in North
Augusta, South Carolina. From
the North Augusta Star.
Here, by contrast, are four churches I spoke at in the South this winter, in four different states, with a little of their history.
|North Avenue Pres, in downtown|
Atlanta. Built from Stone
Mountain granite, North Avenue
has also hosted Korean, Eritrean,
Kenyan, and Sudanese fellowships,
and many mainland Chinese
scholars on Sunday morning from
nearby Georgia Tech.
These four churches also seemed to anchor their communities in deeper ways -- as centers of community, ministry that stretches beyond those communities to the world, and spiritual nournishment for those who come. I enjoyed getting to know their pastoral staff a little, and watching people who obviously cared for one another interact. It appeared that God was working through their ministries, and that there were some wonderful people in their churches who do seem to be making a difference in the world.
That's perhaps the best part of these speaking tours. (Though I also enjoyed hiking on the Appalachian Trail this Sunday afternoon!)
I see the value of churches like Mars Hill Fellowship, with box store architecture, but intense outreach to hurting and disfunctional people like us. But even Mars Hill is now renting the beautiful old United Methodist Church in downtown Seattle, along with the former Hillcrest Pres in West Seattle, where I grew up. Maybe we can do the one, without neglecting the other. Maybe God does want us to redeem our world with beauty that all can see, even while we try to unpretentiously befriend our neighbors with Christ's love.
So here are a few steeples.
Open the doors, and you're likely to meet some great people.
|West Huntsville Baptist, Alabama, is a thriving, multi-ethnic|
fellowship in a part of town that has been a little neglected. Watch out for the
trees in the parking lot! I like a church
that won't make ask trees get out of the way of the automobiles!