January 12, 2014

Family Churches

I've always had a special affinity for churches. Particularly old country churches. I attended college in a very rural mountain area. One of my favorite past-times was to drive around and photograph old churches. Of course, I didn't have the foresight at the time to actually write down where these churches were exactly or their names, so I'm left with a pile of pictures of beautiful churches I can't identify. Live and learn. 

Nowadays, I focus on churches affiliated with my family. I've started to build a page on this blog about my family churches. I plan to add to it as I learn more about these churches.

I am also touched by churches not related to my family. Naturally, we are all in awe of the large cathedrals and fancy well-off churches, but I'm drawn to smaller churches. Those with small but devoted congregations who really don't care that they didn't grow up to be a big red-brick church with a huge parking lot and impressive silver alter ornaments. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit I regularly attend a mega-church in Raleigh, NC with an annual budget equal to that of small countries. I love it but it doesn't touch me like a small country church with a budget of about $17 a week might.

The Mystery of Faith
Ben Long, 1977
St. Mary's Church, West Jefferson, NC
Speaking of being touched, are you familiar with the Ben Long Fresco Trail in western NC? As smitten as I am with my small family churches, I can imagine the devotion and love it took Ben Long to paint magnificent frescos (painting on wet plaster so the art becomes part of the wall). I've spent long periods of time in these churches soaking up the spirit and significance of this beautiful art form. 

With or without beautiful art, churches play a significant role in my family's history...and in my own history. Another story for another day.

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