Ghosts of New England: An Essay on Ministry

Just posted a short essay entitled “Ghosts of New England” on the perils and prospects of gospel ministry in New England at Gospel Alliance New England.

My friend Josh Cousineau, a church planter in southern Maine, runs the site.  Here’s a snatch:

The sight that always catches my attention, though, are the churches, or rather the church buildings.  They always draw my eye.  They are invariably noble.  Sheer white, usually.  Two hundred years have passed, and still their spire is the highest point in the town.  New England has changed a great deal.  But the town fathers cannot bring themselves to discard the dictates of the past.  The steeple is a symbol, signaling that the church, that God, has the preeminence.  There is something about this statement, written into the architecture of the area, that vexes the modern skeptical mind.  We can gut our doctrine and overhaul our liturgy.  But the wood and stone and steeple—that is a different matter.  Words are not sacred, but edifices are.

Elegant churches abound in New England.  The book White on White, containing some of the finest ecclesiastical photography available, displays this in abundance.  Many of these buildings are not used, or barely so.  Some of these structures have been torn down; others, like a magnificent house of worship in Brunswick, my college town, have become houses of pizza.  Yet many structures maintain a stubborn witness to their irreligious surroundings.  If Flannery O’Connor saw the South as Christ-haunted, we might see New England as God-absent, or more provocatively, God-expectant.

Here’s the whole thing.  (To whet your appetite, I mention whoopie pies and Amato’s italians, two regional culinary delights you need to sample before your earthly sojourn ends.)

And here’s an interview I did with GANE, published earlier this week.  I share these links in hopes that they will stir up hearts for the very hard but very meaningful work of gospel ministry in New England.

(Image: Perceptive Travel)


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