selling.the.church

My son Jamie and I traveled down to Danville, Kentucky last Friday evening for a concert.  I was excited to hear the New Century Chamber Orchestra at the Norton Center for the Arts.  Danville is quite possibly my favorite small Kentucky town.  It has a lovely downtown, is home to Centre College [where the VP debates took place] and to an outsider, appears to be a quaint place.

My husband and I visited Danville back in the fall because our kids participated in a marching band competition there.  Having a few hours to pass before our kids’ next performance, he and I decided to enjoy some coffee type beverages at The Hub.  If you ever get to Danville, be sure and stop in and have a drink or light meal.

As we headed for our parked car, I noticed a church a ways down the street.  I decided to take some photos of it.

What we soon discovered, is this:  This church was for sale.  If you’re interested in purchasing it,  follow this link.  {note the site lists the wrong date, I believe they meant 1789, as opposed to 1879}  Upon passing by last Friday, I found it’s still for sale.

After researching on their website, I found the church basement flooded a few years back.  Now they meet down the road a bit.

While I don’t know the entire story, and whether or not they could have repaired the basement, whether they’d outgrown their space, whether they simply wanted to move, etc., it did make me sad to see this beautiful, old, historic building for sale.  Imagine the weddings and funerals and potlucks that have taken place in this building through the years.  I’m not saying they should have stayed; again, I don’t know the congregation’s story.  I’m just forlorn that this space now sits empty.

Nine years ago this month my family moved here, to Lexington.  It was our third move to Central Kentucky, so we were familiar with the city and area.  Our purpose for coming back?  My husband accepted a pastoral position at a local church.  Upon reflecting, I realize that this particular congregation had at one point met downtown, most likely in an old building.  But at some point, in the 1960s, they decided, “Hey, let’s sell the church.”  And they moved to what at the time was the suburban type outskirts of town.

Sure, I don’t know why they moved.  I’ve made a few educated guesses, but I wasn’t present or even alive when the decision was made.

It’s interesting to sometimes stop and think about how I got to where I am.  We ended up back in Lexington because we were part of a long string of events, that at some point included a group deciding to sell, and relocate. What if they never had?  Would we still have come back under similar circumstances?  Most likely not.  They would have been another type of congregation, heading a different direction, and ironically, probably a better fit for our family.  We’re now “downtown” types, as opposed to suburbanites.

Nine years into this thing, and we’re nearly empty nesters and just in case you don’t know, no longer at the church we moved here to be part of.  Three more years.  If the Danville church is still for sale then, I might press my husband to buy it and we live in it.  He could be a Centre professor, I could practice the church organ all day and we could enjoy a coffee at The Hub on a daily basis……  He’ll never go for that.  Or maybe it will be time to move on.  On to a bigger city [lately Lexington seems small] or downtown to a loft or maybe we’ll grow old together sitting on our current front porch.

I just remembered.  The church I grew up attending was sold.  The congregation moved on, to the outskirts of my hometown.  You can work.work.work in a church, sometimes for years, and it might someday go up for sale.  Yes, I realize the CHURCH is more than a building.  But the PLACE, the actual, physical PLACE where we gather to worship, where we gather to sing and pray and eat together, can be sold.  Not made into a {new thing}, not recycled to be relevant, but sold so people can move on and move out and move away.  I find that not just a little odd and sad.

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