Written By: Bill Colley
The church bells are nearly silent on East Main Street. As a kid growing up there were an even one half dozen churches spread over five blocks in my little home town. The Presbyterian and Methodist Churches were both located on East Main Street. These were large brick edifices with towering steeples and coming into town from Friendship Hill you could see the peaks through the trees in the valley below. It bespoke warmth and radiated small town values and if you didn’t think “Christian” clearly it was roused somewhere in the subconscious.
Chatting on the telephone with my sister Saturday we made some small talk about the weather. “Oh, there was something else I was going to tell you,” she shared. “The Presbyterian Church is closing its doors.”
We weren’t Presbyterians growing up and my parents weren’t Presbyterians but my parents were married in the Presbyterian Church. They considered themselves Christians but weren’t much for organized faith. The old man had been married and divorced before meeting my mother. When it came time for their wedding only one local pastor was willing to perform the ceremony. Other than weddings and funerals my parents rarely went to church until my mother was baptized in her late 30s and joined the local American Baptist Church. It was one block southwest from the Presbyterian Church and was a brief dalliance for my mother.
I suspect like a lot of parents in a generation with lost interest in weekly attending church they still wanted their children to have the veneer of faith. We were packed off to nearly every Vacation Bible School in town. If nothing else it was a free babysitting service. Today I am somewhat fluent in Roman Catholic and multiple Protestant faiths. Friends’ families also attended the Presbyterian Church and as kids we sometimes played in the building. On the second floor and behind the sanctuary the church was a labyrinth. There was what appeared secret passages and nooks and these were welcome in a game of hide and seek.
I imagine there was a time when there were at least 200 members or more beneath the steeple at the old place on the corner of East Main and Church Streets. When the decision was made to euthanize there were just 18 members left. Online Saturday afternoon I found an image from an old postcard. The church dominates the image.
Christianity isn’t mentioned in our founding documents but the ideals of the Protestant Reformation created the United States of America. Now we’ve taken the questions originally raised by Luther, Calvin and Knox (the father of the Presbyterian Church) and followed them to conclusion. Every man and now every woman as well are their own church. You can call the big empty and steeple topped buildings abandoned chrysalis. Or when we’re talking multiple houses of worship would it be chrysali? The Presbyterian Church, USA didn’t much help its case after the Auburn Declaration early in the last century.
Out of college and moving away I lived a few blocks from the now abandoned Auburn Theological Seminary. The old Willard Chapel rots on the grounds. It’s where American faith and the Frankfurt School were wed. The Bible suddenly was no longer a cornerstone of faith in America and the tailspin has been gaining momentum for a century. A little more than a decade after the Presbyterian crack-up in Auburn the Marxists from Frankfurt arrived on our shores and like so many prior transplants found fertile soil. On television the admitted socialist Lawrence O’Donnell now rails against the Bible being used at Presidential Inaugurations. And he has an audience in agreement. Americans sleep late on Sunday mornings and spend the rest of the day with football and other entertainments. Some years ago a fellow even proposed turning the old Willard Chapel into a nightclub. We’re told America isn’t a Christian nation today and never really did have much faith. Since the Frankfurt School came to dominate media, entertainment and government thinking immigration policy was retooled to dilute the Christian tradition.
Some Americans fret about losing their God given Second Amendment right but I think while it’s a large number it’s still a minority and…
If we surrendered our faith in God so easily do you really believe we’ll make a stand on firearms?