Meeting Everywhere

Last week in the Clarion-Ledger, there was an article entitled, “Congregations Meet in Nontraditional Places“.

Last summer, the congregation was meeting in a movie theater with a 30-foot screen and recording studio that enabled it to create multimedia presentations.

Members later met in Rooster’s Blues House bar on the square, where Ward sometimes served Communion.

In March, they moved into the funeral home.

The church was founded to reach those disconnected from traditional church.

“We purposely have met in places that were beyond people’s notions of what a church would be so they would come back and hear the message or give it one more chance,” Ward said. “In the bar, there was a glowing beer sign behind us, but what was being spoken of and what we were reading about together seemed to overshadow it.

“I think the thing we have learned through all of our moving is what you really need for a church building is a place where people can focus, feel safe from distraction and the world. You want a place where people don’t feel like they are alone.”

Shane Brown leads TurningPointe Church, a young, nondenominational congregation of about 200 members that meets in a storefront beside Pump It Up, a children’s party place, on Old Fannin Road in Brandon. It already has outgrown the space. Members hope to expand the the space from 3,400 to 6,400 square feet.

“We are unable to buy land,” Brown said. “Land in the area is $300,000 to $500,000 an acre.”

Besides, he said, “All the thinking is kind of gone that you have to have this and that, a steeple and your own standalone building. Because last year, we had 54 baptisms. That’s like one a week.

“I always think of it like a restaurant. Some of the most hole-in-the-wall restaurants are your favorite places to eat.”

Since 1926, there was a barbecue restaurant close to downtown B’ham called Ollie’s.  It doesn’t exist anymore (due to a not-great decision in 1999 by a later generation to move from to far south of town from this great round building) although their sauce is still being bottled.  The ‘old’ Ollie’s was famous for their sauce, pies, and sassy waitresses who memorized the orders.  They were also famous for the Supreme Court case Katzenbach v. (Ollie) McClung from 1964.

Since Ollie’s isn’t around anymore, the building now houses the Grace and Truth Church.

Where the pit, the barbecue altar, once stood in the center of the building, now there’s a traditional church altar:

Kairos, Birmingham AL

…and alongside the sanctuary, just on the other side of this wall on the right in the pic above, the church has a food ministry / restaurant called Kairos Kafe.  And it is good:

We travel so much, we’ve thought about doing a series of pics called “Not Your Momma’s Baptist Church”.

When most of us here in the South think of Baptist church architecture, we think of this, like New Hope Baptist in Natchez AL:

New Hope Baptist Church, Natchez AL

or this, pretty First Baptist in my hometown of Cullman:

First Baptist Church, Cullman AL

…but First Baptist in Selma looks like this (gargoyles, even!):

First Baptist Church, Selma AL

and this is First Baptist in Montgomery:

First Baptist Church, Montgomery AL

On the opposite end of the spectrum, and this isn’t a Baptist church but rather a congregation meeting in a non-traditional space – is this church in Troy AL, with a galvanized metal steeple atop a mobile home:

Mobile Home/Trailer Church with Steeple, Troy AL // Troy Community of Christ Church

Another great series.

Tomorrow: pics from the Bluff Park Art Show.  Later this week: a ‘real’ castle in Tennessee that we visited this past weekend.  Oh!  And I am so behind on my emails!  I’ll get caught up today and tomorrow.  I’ve got a new volunteer ‘job’ that’s been keeping me super-busy and I can’t wait to tell you about that too.  Exciting!  Talk with you soon!  xoxo

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