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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Reflecting on Alabama Church Fires

It is no mistake that the burning of nine church buildings in Alabama over the past couple of weeks is a tragedy. However, it has spurred some reflections that follow closely to the line of thinking from my previous post here (and at my other blog).

If every church building (note that I did specify "building") in the Southeastern US, since that's what this blog is devoted to, were to burn to the ground, how do you think it would affect the Church (void of the term "building")? Do you think we could just brush it off and say, "Oh well, that was just bricks and mortar; merely a place where we gathered..."?

What is this dependency we have on "a building"? We are not ancient Israelites who must go to a specific location to meet with God or worship together. Why is it so hard to understand that the very life God has given us is to be itself a tapestry of worship?

Sorry, it's early, I've only had about 3/4 a cup of coffee, and I tossed and turned all last night, so you get my semi-stream of consciousness thought process. Nevertheless, any thoughts?

or comment in community

4 Comments:

Blogger Rich said...

I'd say very good question, but maybe bad timing.

In my experience, the buildings here in the south do hold too much importance. The number of decisions that church's make based on buildings is staggering. It is also very sad. And that problem is not just in the south.

I am one voice on our church's leadership team that would love to see us get rid of the building we are in. The mortgage is killing us and upkeep with our small congregation is very hard. But for others there is safety and stability. So it's not an easy situation.

2/08/2006 11:51:00 AM

 

Blogger Andy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2/09/2006 08:56:00 PM

 

Blogger Andy said...

I was a pastor in Alabama until this past summer. The lead pastor and I had many days of dreaming of a big church fire. To that congregation, losing the building would be catastrophic, which I would have welcomed, to shake the religious cobwebs, so that new life would abound. Because of this decaying asbestos religion, the building means so much to people, that they cannot picture losing it, for losing the building would mean losing their whole faith experience.

2/09/2006 09:06:00 PM

 

Blogger postmodernegro said...

Church burnings in the South have a long history deeply rooted in racism...of course there are those instances where you just have a bunch of kids engaged in foolishness.

But as an African-American Christian I have a profound respect for black Church buildings. I am the first to admit that oftentimes there is a bit of a fetish for buildings but this needs to be qualified. For much of American Christian church history the black Church building was the only public space where blacks could realize and affirm their humanity. It was the only space, for a long long time, that blacks could be agents, mobilize, educate their children, produce community leaders, etc.. So there is a rich legacy tied to black church spaces or buildings. So it is not simply some kind of irrational tie to brick and mortar (there is that element to be sure). It is mostly about esteeming black ecclesial spaces as places where blacks can meet and affirm their being the image of God, escape from a society that is still racist, and be one of the few remaining autonmous black institutions left in predominantly black areas.

I love black church buildings...that's why I get mad when crazy people burn them up.

9/29/2006 06:26:00 PM

 

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