Sunday, October 5, 2008

Celebrating 128 Years Today

Built and established in 1880, the First Baptist Church of Citra celebrated 128 years today.

I stopped by this church on Friday to take some photos of the stained-glass windows. Caretaker Ron Carroll was working on the lawn and shrubs, as you can see in the first photo. The outside architecture is beautiful. If you enlarge the photos you will see that it is vintage work. Mr. Caroll walked over and told me the church was celebrating 128 years on Sunday (today) and asked if I wanted to see the inside. This is what I saw as my eyes adjusted to the darkness inside.

The day before this - I was thinking about my blog and the name I chose: The Shadow of the Cross. I started thinking about what the cross stands for and what it means to me as a Christian. One thought led to another and I decided I wanted to document crosses in some way. I thought about several little country churches locally, with their steeples and crosses, and decided to do some driving around and shoot some photos. First Baptist of Citra was the first place I wanted to go to. I never dreamed I would get to go inside the building.

Once inside, Mr. Carroll began to tell me the history of the church. This was the original building, built in 1880 and used by the black community of that area. It was soon taken over by the whites for their use in worship. Look at the photo of the interior. At the top of the photo, on the right-hand side, you see a couple open windows with a seating area behind them. There is a white cloth covering something in that area. When the whites began using the church, the black members were relegated to that sitting area and wall panels were pulled down from the attic to "hide" the blacks from the whites. They were able to hear but not be seen. You have to remember this was in the 1880's. The light fixtures you see hanging from the ceiling, replaced the oil lanterns that originially hung there. At some point, carpet was placed on the floor. It is threadbare now and in need of replacement.

The stain-glass windows replaced shutters that were over open windows. The shutters were opened to let in light and air flow during services, and closed to keep out animals, bugs, and dirt when there were no services. The stain-glass windows were designed, crafted, and donated by a current day member of the church. Aren't they beautiful? My photos do not do them justice.

I really appreciated Mr. Carroll taking time to show me around. He invited my family to homecoming services. He also invited us to Thanksgiving Dinner on the grounds - it's a service provided to the community. Last year they fed over 300 people - free. It's part of their outreach to the neighborhood. Hopefully you enjoy looking at the photos and learning the history of this awesome church in Citra.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful church. And the history behind it is amazing. Don't you think God just wanted to tear down those panels? It's amazing what we find out about our history.

Patti said...

Thank you for sharing your discoveries at this beautiful church. As beautiful as it looks, I know it must have been a thrilling experience.

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