It took this line in today's newspaper (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, OH) to get me to start my own blog. I've read it a million of times before when a church closes ... it goes like this ... "This building is a beautiful building. A magnificent building. But the bottom line is, it isn't the church. We are." The article quotes the well-intentioned Rev. John Weigand pastor at the eventually closing century-old St. James Church on Cleveland's west side suburb of Lakewood, OH.
I have to admit, I am a more devout church architecture student (catholic churches to be exact) than I am a church goer.
As a kid growing up in Ashtabula, OH (think small town Ohio), I attended both a Catholic grade school (Mother of Sorrows) and high school. So, needless to say, I was in Church --- a lot. Add to that, I was an altar boy -- a very devout one. In fact, the pastor of my parish told me he would be the altar boy at my first mass. I didn't become a priest, but my experience as a altar boy was amazing. Why, because I got to spend a lot of time in this stunning structure -- a building -- a church. (See vintage postcard of the interior of Mother of Sorrows from the early 1900s above.)
Oftentimes, I would sneak into the church on a Saturday, or after school, with my cheap camera and snap away at the windows, arches, statues, etc. For me, the building was creative inspiration. For me, looking at and studying the building was as much of a prayer to god as would be if I had knelt in a pew to pray. It was a connection without words.
So, I will end my first post with that. Sure, buildings are buildings. But churches -- especially OLD churches -- are more than that ... just ask any 8 year old.
Mother of Sorrows Church | 1464 W. 6th Street | Ashtabula, OH 44004