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Abandoned Churches by Rev. Douglas Douma (October 2020 Banner)

Posted on Oct 12, 2020

Driving through upstate New York recently, I noticed a great number of old, abandoned farmhouses.  It turns out that even in currently lived-in houses, New York has the oldest median age of houses of any state in America.  Our house, 2 doors down from the church where I preach, is so old that we don’t actually know how old it is!  We were told it is from 1920, but this is almost certainly wrong as the house is on an 1875 village map and we have hand-hewn beams visible in the basement.  Our church is even older, and we know precisely that it was built in 1825. The house and the church have been kept up fairly-well, at least compared to those crumbling, abandoned farms. What has suffered far more in this old state of New York is the status of Christianity. The churches have declined; some have even been sold and become residences, art studios, or historical societies. While I love history, I find it particularly sad when a church becomes merely the history in its place, and no longer an active presence.

I hope more than anything that we will be an active, present church here in Unionville, NY.  We are certainly keeping busy at the house and the mission!  It has been great to see how the Lord can use us here.  The work is constantly varying.  Hikers come and go, visiting our Sola mission.  A young church lady comes over to meet with Priscilla for tea and stays for the conversation she needs.  A young man lives with us temporarily as we help him to work out some things in his life.  And a not-so-young man comes by weekly with food donations for the hikers and just the right tool or piece of hardware needed for our latest project.

This state is indeed is older. But maybe it is here, and not Bible-belt Georgia or some other Appalachian Trail state, that the hikers (most of whom are non-Christians) are more surprised to find a Christian mission.  Maybe it is here that they will knock on our door.  And maybe it is here that they will come to know of Christ’s active presence work in this world and the renewing of their mind through the Holy Spirit.

(Photo used with the kind permission of Karen VanDyk)

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