Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Church Home Can't Be Burned Down ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

A Church Home Can't Be Burned Down ; A Christian Science Perspective on Daily Life

Article excerpt

Another Baptist church building in rural Alabama has been destroyed by fire, bringing the total to 10 as of last weekend.

Half of those churches belonged to predominantly black congregations and half to white. All represented a social and economic convergence for 10 small, close-knit congregations with generations of family and community ties.

Church burning represents an attempt to destroy that precious sense of community, and these incidents are not just a series of attacks on separate, isolated congregations, but an affront to American society and its values.

I grew up in a black church, a Baptist church located in an area of Birmingham, Ala., near the steel mills. That church was the center of that neighborhood. We were a family. Its members included founders of the church as well as second and third generations of family members. We joined together for after-church suppers, we had several choirs, we put on plays related to stories in the Bible. It was where I learned about the Bible. It was a place of comfort and help to its members and its neighbors. That church building was rarely empty. It hummed with activity.

I can imagine a member of one of those burned churches coming to stand before the blackened shell and silently asking, "Why?" He or she might say, "Lord, this is too hard to bear," and start talking to the Lord.

I remember how a member of our church would stand up and talk out loud to God during the tumultuous civil rights era. She would talk until she felt lifted up.

The talk would continue until she felt forgiveness for those who were threatening us. That conversation would go on until there was nothing but joy overflowing from the heart. I have seen people who were defeated clasping the hand of the person standing next to them during the prayer and saying, "Thank you, Lord, for You are the victor. …

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