A Hymn Without Words
Why do small churches attract us? Why is the image of a chapel so poignant in an era of burgeoning mega-churches?
This modest church may suggest an answer. Resting beside Highway 17 in Jacksonboro, South Carolina, Wesley UM Church sits empty for most of the week. The pastor serves a rural community with pews for a few dozen worshipers. A prayer band meets on Tuesdays. Nearby a billboard advertises No-fault Divorce. A small road disappears into the Low Country woods.
Churches like Wesley UM were bulwarks against segregation and discrimination across the South for over 100 years. They were witness to the value of human lives — lives that Jim Crow tried to throw away.
Wesley UM Church was also witness to a fundamental quality of belief: quietly being present. It was not necessary to use marble and gilded cornices to make this a place of worship. A door, two windows, and a modest steeple made up the face of the church. Any more would have been superfluous. It was, in the words of Maya Angelou, “A Song Flung Up to Heaven."