Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lee Bey on storefront churches


Whatever the term, storefront churches are a disappearing breed now. The rise of religiously charismatic mega-churches has played a role. So did stricter practice of zoning laws (storefront churches are often a non-conforming use.) Years of increasing real estate values along commercial areas of black Chicago have driven out many of these churches. Why rent for pennies to a small church when you've got CVS, Walgreens and others offering you a tidy bundle to demolish your building?

The churches are worth noting and documenting while they're still around. They are a step in the black American religious experience in the post-Great Migration north. Architecturally, they have their own vernacular and represent often ingenious examples of adaptive reuse. Amen? Amen.
You know I wanted to address what he said earlier in his post in him saying that this term has become something of a slur...
The term ascribed to them---"storefront churches"---became a bit of a slur, conjuring up stereotypes of shady preacher/pimps with processed hair and new Cadillacs parked in the rear.
I'm sure many of us may have those same sensibilities when we find such a church. It's probably ministers like these that probably would cause some people to just not go to church or at worst might lose faith in Christianity.

At the same time, some of these churches have been built up overtime to megachurches. Reverend Meek's Salem Baptist Church didn't have the congregation is does today, once upon a time. They started with a small group say less than 25 people. Creflo Dollar at World Changers in Atlanta had a similar size group starting off. I'm sure once upon a time the Catholic Church started with a small number of people to eventually become one of the most powerful churches or religious institution or Christian denomination in the world.

If not that I'm sure in some of these churchs the faith of some individual was solidified indeed brought alive, but these storefront preachers. Still I suppose one must choose carefully who they want to put their faith in.

Also, and this is my conclusion. Churches to me are only bricks and mortar. People make them holy (however you may define that). Especially the people who worship there or indeed the people who effectively lead their flock in such a building.

Check out Mr. Bey's post there and look at his other photos of storefront churches around the city of Chicago.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are now moderated because one random commenter chose to get comment happy. What doesn't get published is up to my discretion. Of course moderating policy is subject to change. Thanks!