April 4, 2018
Recently, I stumbled on a post by a friend talking about saving and restoring a local church. She had found it by chance and she knew she needed to learn more about this rundown building on stilts. That’s when she met George. George was walking out to his car to search for a washer and found a woman busting at the seams with questions regarding this old church. Sure enough, it was the church George grew up in…it was where he prayed, worshipped, made friends, learned about God, and made memories. This old church which now stands only supported by a few pillars of rock and covered in weathered paint, was a huge piece of George’s and so many other’s history. This church played a role in so many families’ lives and has been the setting for many of their stories. From couples saying, “I do.”, to families saying “until we meet again” to a loved one ~ it was one of the first African-American churches in our county circa 1846-ish. Val knew she had to play a role in preserving this Legacy, and that’s when I contacted her to photograph this piece of local history. Her passion to save this church is one that you don’t encounter every day, yet as God’s timing would have it; while we were there, we ran into another contributor in helping to preserve this beautiful church and she informed us that this church is already in the process of being restored thanks to Gladys Wallace Jones. Their fervor in their endeavors served as a reminder to me of the importance of learning your local history. I mean, my step father is related to Dr. Mudd…crazy, right? Talk about a family tree. and we haven’t even visited his house which is just minutes away! That’s when I started to realize that although we have managed to teach the next generations textbook history, or the history of our country, which is vital; we tend to neglect teaching them the history of the very place they live in…their local history. It’s tangible history. It’s personal history. It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are a house divided on a grander scale, and one way to find unity is through going back to basics…and learning. Learning about history…learning about people. The further you look in our history, the more you can see how a house divided will fall. The more you dig in history, the more you’ll see the stories of triumph when one person choses to cross the divide and choose love. The deeper you look into the source of every war or conflict, the more knowledge you can pass on to others of how to avoid it. From the outside, this church appears to be an old, weathered building begging to be torn down, but once you step inside these paint peeled walls, you can almost hear a piano where someone played hymns of hope and songs of praise, a runner leading from the door guiding you to the altar where someone knelt in heartfelt prayer, a broom someone would use to sweep the perfectly preserved wooden floor, beautifully constructed chairs where the congregation would rest their tired bodies and eager souls, a pulpit where a man gave messages of hope and taught of a love which has no prejudice, and that’s when you realize, this isn’t some weathered building begging to be torn down, but rather a church which has stood the test of time and has seen more storms come and go than you and I combined. There’s a greater story resting on these stone stilts and you can hear it when that little boy from Maryland, now a grown man with a kind spirit shares his story. Now, when you see this weathered building, I hope you see a legacy of many families. Preserving this church is about preserving their stories. Stories are history and history holds the legacy of people.
Here’s to people helping people and preserving local legacies by sharing their stories…Keep up the good work, Val!