They might seem like they were built out in the middle of nowhere, but these country churches were strategically located to enable the most families to be able to attend. Some families lived a day or more away from the nearest town, so giving up two days a week, one being a workday, to travel to church wasn”t feasible. Therefore, churches were planted in locations where rural families would only have to travel a couple hours at most each way.
People gathered at these churches not only to worship, but for community meetings and events, for burials, and for weddings. They fostered friendships and commitment to the local community.
In today”s society, the country church is losing its significance. Fewer communities are rural-based these days with most populations having moved into towns and cities. Ease of transportation has also impacted the survival of these landmarks. Yet some country churches are still hanging on.
My husband and I attend a small country church on the outskirts of Abilene, TX in the farming community of Hamby. A few years back we celebrated the congregation”s 100th year with a grand celebration. We continue to have potlucks or “dinner on the ground” every couple months, everyone knows everyone else, and everyone chips in whenever there is a need among the members. It”s like a little piece of history that I am happy to keep alive.
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My latest book, Stealing the Preacher, centers around just such a country church. Joanna Robbin”s beloved church building has stood empty for two years without a minister, and she longs to bring it back to life. The community needs it. She needs it. But most of all, her unbelieving father needs it. Little does she know that, thanks to an offhand comment she made, her ex-outlaw daddy has decided to break out the old face-hiding bandannas and kidnap her a parson from the local rail line. Crockett Archer might have been stolen, but Joanna can”t shake the feeling that God intended him for her church. Can she convince Crockett that he ended up right where he belongs?
Questions for you:
* Have you ever attended a small country church?
* Do you have a country church in your community? Is it abandoned or still going strong?
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