An old friend recently sent us a link to an article and pictures about the sad state of the Fourth Baptist Church building in North St. Louis. http://www.flickr.com/photos/faeriecat/sets/72157612521780833/
This is the church Deanna grew up in, and where we met in the mid-fifties. I attended there only for about a year and a half, before I went into service right after high school. We last saw the building, no longer in use, during a visit to the city in 2003. It had suffered some vandalism but was still mostly intact.
Today it is a fire-ravaged hulk, no longer fit for anything but used brick (which is now St. Louis’s chief export). It fits right in. After all, most of North St. Louis looks like a war zone. The landscape is mostly vacant lots and rubble. Housing we lived in no longer exists. Old schools are boarded up. Why should this building escape that fate?
So I was a little surprised at the sadness I felt looking at the pictures of the building in its current state: the caved-in roof; the charred sanctuary; the balcony my buddies and I preferred; the pipe organ reduced to ashes; the baptistery where I was properly dunked (the Presbyterians had already sprinkled me but that didn’t count).
As I say, I didn’t attend there very long, and I have long since refined my thinking about the beliefs I embraced there as a teen. But I remember with gratitude warm and sincere people who made me feel welcome when I needed it. We had a large and active group of young people, always on the go. And, of course, there was Deanna. We’ll be married 50 years in May.
Without “Fourth,” as we knew it, we probably wouldn’t have met, and our kids and grandkids wouldn’t exist. Messes with your head, it does.