I am sure when the members of the historic Abner Creek Baptist Church woke up on a sunny Wednesday morning in January 2008, they had no idea what events would unfold that day. Founded in 1832, Abner Creek Baptist Church had been a center of life and community for many people in this rural corner of Spartanburg County.
When their buildings were destroyed- everything except the gymnasium- they could have folded in the face of such a setback. After all, they were a relatively small congregation; how would they put this all back together? Rather than wallow in discouragement, they found another church that was willing to share their facilities and went about the business of planning to rebuild. Rebuilding for Abner Creek didn’t just mean building back what they had before. They were presented with an opportunity to step back and ask themselves some fundamental questions about who they are as a church and how they can reach out to their growing, changing community.
The new Abner Creek Baptist Church won’t look like the old one; neither the buildings nor the people. Their rural community is rapidly becoming a suburban community. They are planning for a new church that will not only serve their current congregation, but also provide a place of gathering for a new type of community as it grows up around them.
As we have worked with Abner Creek Baptist Church to design their new home, it has struck me that their experience is not unlike what many people are experiencing now in their personal lives. For many, their financial world has burned down before their very eyes. They are faced with a choice: try to rebuild their life the way it was before, or reevaluate, find what is important, and build on a new foundation that will be firm on the shifting sand of an ever changing world.
Abner Creek Baptist Church saw a rainbow that day as their buildings were destroyed; a symbol of hope in the midst of destruction. Hopefully many others see a rainbow today as they look to a new future with hope rather than despair.