The farm that I was raised on was five miles from the nearest small village. The town itself had a population of ninety people, with two gas stations, two bars, two sawmills, a small mom-and-pop grocery store, and one church.
The bars and gas stations have since closed, the sawmills have been swallowed up by large mills, and the grocery store struggles to exist as a small mini-mart. But the church remains.
Within the surrounding community and farmland, there were two other churches, a Free Methodist church connected to a local church camp and the Catholic Church started by Father Pieree-Jean De Smet. The next closest church was twenty miles away in another valley.
The church was more than a church for the forty to sixty people who met each week. It was regarded by many to be “their church” even though they never attended. As is often the case in rural communities, people are religious and will identify with a church in the community even though they may never attend. For them, the presence of the church is a part of the community identity. Read More