As many of you know, Polly and I travel the highways and byways of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Indiana, and Southeast Michigan looking for photography opportunities. I have developed an interest in how we as Americans — particularly Midwesterners — memorialize life and death. Of special interest is the various means religious people use to remember the dead. This interest might seem odd for someone who is an atheist, but I am attracted to roadside memorials and cemeteries. From time to time, I plan to share a few of the photographs I’ve shot while stalking death.
I shot these photographs at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Deshler, Ohio.
As Polly and I travel the roads of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Indiana, we are always on the lookout for God’s True Church®. Here are a few of the churches we stumbled upon in recent weeks.
Emanuel Lutheran Church, Napoleon, Ohio, James Castello, Pastor. Emanuel Lutheran is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The church’s website has the following message for visitors:
Thank you for visiting the web site of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Napoleon, Ohio. We hope you will visit the site often. This is an active and dedicated congregation which struggles to live out the Gospel in their everyday lives. Like all of God’s children, we fall short of His glory and come before Him as beggars. But we know of His freely given grace through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Knowing that gift is what empowers us and motivates us, we are humbled and privileged to be called children of His.
We hope that you know of His freely given love as well. If so, you know the importance of regular worship and prayer. If you aren’t sure, we invite you to our worship services or to those of the church of your choice to learn more.
This summer has been quite warm and humid. I am sure whoever put the message on Emanuel Lutheran’s sign was trying to be cute. However, I am not sure that reminding passersby of the fact that hell is hotter than a 95 degree summer day is the best way to attract prospective members.
Faith Baptist Church, Defiance, Ohio, Mick Sobiek, Pastor. Faith Baptist is affiliated with the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches (GARBC). The church has no web presence. I preached at this church in 1979. I am sure my sermon was as forgettable as the congregation. At the time, Faith Baptist was without a pastor. The deacon in charge of things told me that the church did not need a pastor because they were doing quite well without one. What I remember most about the service was that everyone sat in the back of the church (Good Baptists). I mean everyone. Here I was, a 22-year-old preacher, trying to preach a sermon to a group of people who weren’t the slight bit interested in what I had to say. Needless to say, things did not go well. The highlight of the evening happened after church when the deacon took us to McDonald’s for dinner.
First Assembly of God, Defiance, Ohio, Randall Wilson, Pastor. First Assembly does have a website, but it has 1990s Windows 95 vibe. In others words: ugly, outdated, terrible design. I found no information that would tell me anything about the church or its pastor. First Assembly wants passersby to know that God has ALL the answers. Answers to what?, I ask. The sign message seems to intimate that if we have questions and listen real closely that God will answers them. I would love for anyone from First Assembly to demonstrate how this works. Sitting at the McDonald’s drive-thru. Should I get a number one or a number seven? Yes, Lord, what shall it be? Chicken or beef?
His Light Ministries, Deshler, Ohio, Brad and Michelle Wright, Pastors. According to the church’s website, His Light is a “Blood Bought,Spirit-Filled, Non-Denominational, Pentecostal Church that still believes in the Power of God.”
The Wrights describe their “call” to the ministry this way:
It was the night before Thanksgiving and the year was 2007, when God called us into the Ministry. I had just told Michelle and the kids, as they were downstairs watching tv, that I was going upstairs to bed. I remember just closing my eyes and was almost asleep, when all of sudden I heard an audible voice say, “Preach the Word.” Fear struck me and I prayed to the Lord telling Him that I couldn’t do it. I am just a kid, and I don’t know much about the Bible- where others had gone to Bible College and were more qualified to Preach His Word than I ever would be. The next night, I heard the same audible voice speak to me again, as I had just closed my eyes in bed saying, “Everything is going to be alright.” After I told Michelle what the Lord had commanded us to do, we tarried and prayed asking the Lord, “How are we going to be able to do this?” It wasn’t very long until God would answer our prayers and give us our greatest help, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. On Christmas Eve of 2007, Michelle awoke out of her sleep and was filled with the Spirit and began speaking in other tongues. Several weeks later, we were just getting ready to leave for our Water Baptism, God poured His Spirit out again and I was Baptized in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues.
Are you looking for a church that will tickle your ears, encourage you in your sins, feed you coffee and donuts at every service, and never preaches against sin? Well, there’s one of those on every corner! But if you’re looking for church that has the Truth that sets free! That preaches and teaches regarding sin and the Answer to sin! That feeds the true Word of God and not bread alone! Then come to His Light Ministries tomorrow morning at 10:30! We would love to have you join with us to grow in this Message of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified!
Barn along rural Northwest Ohio highway. I always want to stop and ask, WHICH God? However, I know here in Northwest Ohio that there is only ONE God — the God of the Christian Bible.
Crossroads Community Church, Adrian, Ohio, Lee Prettyman, (executive) Pastor. According to the church’s website, Crossroads Community has a “dream.” Their dream is described this way:
It is the dream of people being a church where everyone – exploring or skeptical, hurting or hopeless, discouraged or depressed, frustrated or confused – can find love, acceptance, guidance and encouragement in safe, friendly places.
It is the dream of being a church where relationship is important and religion isn’t…where no one stands alone.
It is the dream of people sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with Lenawee County and the world, and encouraging people to take steps toward loving God and people more.
It is the dream of people growing together in spiritual maturity through community, inspiring environments and created spaces…loving, laughing and learning together, understanding God’s wonderful plan and living life to its greatest potential.
It is the dream of people using strategic partnerships to serve, impact and make positive change in our world, our community, our neighbors and each other… designed to serve the total person – spiritually, emotionally, physically and socially.
My casual romp through their website led me to conclude that Crossroads Community is a generic Evangelical church focused on reaching Millennials/Gen-Xers for Jesus. I can’t think of any other reason that a church would have a Pokémon Go charging station. Perhaps I missed the Bible verse that said, Go into all the world and indulge Millennials in their latest gaming quest. Or conquering the Pokémon world for Jesus! Crossroads Community Church is a good example of a church latching onto the latest fad and using it to “reach” people.
Crossroads is planning on building a new facility. They must reach a goal of $4 million before they can start building. Crossroads is quite statistic-driven. You can check out their weekly statistics here.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Deshler, Ohio, Arthur Niewiadomski, Pastor. The church has no web presence. The last picture is of the church’s rectory (that’s my guess anyway).