I have driven past the church hundreds of times. Perched on top of a little open spot in the woods, it hardly merits a glance, unless of course you like to look at old wood-framed country churches.
Today is a Saturday, and I’m in no hurry to get back to a never-ending series of projects at the homestead. The roof is leaking again. A rotting facia board needs to be replaced. Bare ground where holly and yaupon have been ripped out of the front flower bed, awaiting azaleas and camellias that haven’t even left the nursery. Seems like a fine time to stop and give this church a more thoughtful consideration.
It is well-kept. Not a blemish to be found. Not even any peeling paint. I have stopped to look at a lot of these old structures in my travels across Alabama, and this one may be the best-maintained I have ever seen.
A sign out front tells a story. Back in 1905, a group of nine Presbyterian pilgrims left a brush arbor to build a sturdier place of worship and a cemetery on this site.
I have driven by here on Sunday before. Nine members look about right. Maybe three cars and a couple of old pickup trucks in the parking lot. If Preacher Calvin was correct, it would seem the Good Lord hasn’t done a whole lot of “choosing” in this spot over the last 113 years or so.
I walk around back to the cemetery. Like the building, it is neat as a pin.
I am captivated by the two columns at the entrance, which the sign indicates were added in 1930. Tallapoosa field-stone, probably gathered from a congregant’s field not too far down the road. Angels carved from Sylacauga marble, the quarry a day’s wagon trip if the mules had a pleasant disposition and momma didn’t dawdle among the sundries at the dry goods store.
I step for a closer examination. I am transfixed.
The finger is pointed at me, left hand beckoning through the gate to the markers beyond.
“Come on in traveler. There’s a quiet spot right over there. Enter and join the community of the dead, those who lie in wait of ‘The Shout and the voice of the archangel.'”*
I consider the proposition for a moment, then I’m back in my truck, boot heavy on the accelerator.
All of a sudden those chores at the homestead aren’t looking too bad.
*From The Holy Bible, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.