Religion Unplugged

The very definition of old news, and what a joy to read: A feature on a 400-year-old church

By Bobby Ross Jr. | GetReligion

About five years ago, I traveled to rural Iowa to report on a 156-year-old church surrounded by corn and soybean fields and a cemetery where generations of deceased members rest in peace.

The news angle was that the tiny congregation was working hard to survive despite immense challenges facing it and similar houses of worship.

As part of the same “Rural Redemption” project, I spent a Sunday with a 200-year-old assembly in the farming and coal-mining country of southeastern Ohio.

I thought those churches had long histories!

But Washington Post religion writer Julie Zauzmer recently wrote about an Episcopal congregation in rural Virginia that is marking 400 years — 400 years! — in 2018.

The Post’s headline pretty much nails it:

This 400-year-old church is older than almost any institution in America

This won’t be a long post because my basic message is simple: This is an interesting, well-reported story, and I’d urge you to read it.

What did I like about it? I’ll quickly mention three things.

Read the full column.

• • •

All of my GetReligion columns (May 2018):

• Hey big spender: NPR highlights another side of embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt. Published May 1.

• On the National Day of Prayer, there’s faith-based news from the White House — and an RNS scoop. Published May 3..

• Friday Five: End Times for GetReligion, WSJ tackles God on front pages, ‘modesty ponchos’ and more. Published May 4.

• Nothing but net: Boston Globe nails story of faith and prayer guiding a Celtics rookie. Published May 7.

• This is ironic: Paige Patterson is front-page news in Houston, too, but not for controversial comments. Published May 8.

• An amicable parting? Joint statement on Mormon Church leaving Boy Scouts ignores values clashes. Published May 10.

• Friday Five: Paige Patterson furor, Jehovah’s Witnesses abuse, Austin bomber’s life, NRA prayer and more. Published May 11.

• Adoption law: In battle over gay rights vs. religious freedom, one side draws way more news ink. Published May 14.

• ‘Is your church van a death trap?’: Kentucky paper shines a bright light on important safety question. Published May 15.

The very definition of old news, and what a joy to read: A feature on a 400-year-old church. Published May 17.

• Friday Five: Atheists and hell, unsafe church vans, royal wedding, ‘I’m Batman’ and more. Published May 18.

‘It Is Well With My Soul’: Grieving Santa Fe, Texas, sings, prays and seeks answers after school shooting. Published May 21.

• Another faith angle with a Detroit Tigers pitcher: Free Press nails how Matthew Boyd raised his game. Published May 22.

• ESPN tells an NBA veteran’s emotional story extremely well — and with a strong faith angle. Published May 24.

• Friday Five: Paige Patterson all-nighter, pope’s Europe worries, royal celebrity pastor and more. Published May 25.

• Three questions about AP’s story on conservative Christian attorneys gaining influence under Trump. Published May 29.

Culture of Chick-fil-A? A holy ghost in the eye-popping minimum wage planned by this franchisee. Published May 30.

• One F-word appears (repeatedly) in ESPN’s profile of Golden State star Stephen Curry, but another doesn’t. Published May 31.


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