Yesterday my church, Crooked Creek Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, in the United States, celebrated its 175th anniversary. There was a special program book about the church’s history, including drawings of the early log cabin building, and a bookmark insert with a list of the pastors that have served the congregation. The service incorporated guest musicians (as well as us regulars), and reading of messages of congratulations from our Representative, Andre Carson, and our Governor, Mitch Daniels, as well as the American Baptist Historical Society (who presented the church with a certificate) and a variety of past members. After the service there was a meal downstairs.
The fact that some are predicting the disappearance of churches got a mention (see for instance the recent piece on whether churches will go the way of bookstores). If Crooked Creek Baptist Church continues for another 175 years, it will not be because it has kept doing everything the same way. It clearly hasn’t in many respects, although it has in some important ones, including being Baptist and being a racially integrated church from its foundation. While the large traditional building may not be the model for the future, I don’t think there is any way churches like mine will revert to using a log cabin. It seems clear to me that the era in which it could simply be assumed that people will go to church, or even that people who have a certain sort of Christian faith with go to church, is gone forever. All I can say is that I am happy to be part of a congregation that is wrestling seriously with the question of what role if any the traditional church has in the immediate future.
But let me not distract too much with such reflections from the main point of this post, which is to wish Crooked Creek Baptist Church – the congregation and not a building – a happy 175th anniversary!