Reconstruction of the West Liberty Christian Church



We won another victory over the tornado of 2012.

Almost four years after a horrible tornado took our 102-year old building from us, we moved into our new church building.

Previous to this, we worshiped at another church.  I know it was a great sacrifice on their part but they  graciously provided their building to us for about a year.   This was a wonderful act of kindness to a reeling church body after taking a devastating blow.  Luckily we were able to stagger back to our corner and get our wits about us.

We were at this time able to go through the difficult stages of shock and grief over our building.  Also the healing started as we dealt with the emotional attachment to a building that was so meaningful to many of us.  Seeing our children coming to accept the Lord Jesus and go through the act of baptism, walking some of those same children down the sloped aisle to their awaiting spouse, saying good-bye to those who meant so much to us at their funerals was on all  our minds as we started planning for a new building.  We all knew how hard it would be, for we had not planned on bidding adieu to our old friend on the corner of Prestonsburg and Broadway.

We then worshiped in a mobile unit for another eighteen months or so back on our lot.  As we stared at a vacant lot where the old building stood, a constant reminder of what was taken and how much work lay ahead of us as we tried to fill that same lot.

We then built a metal building on the back of our property and praised God there.  We shared this building with the food pantry.  On some Sundays we could smell rotten potatoes or onions or other produce.

Eventually God’s grace and mercy brought us through the storm as He promised.  We had our first service on the first Sunday of 2016.  We were so excited. We moved in before the building would be finished and we are still waiting for the downstairs and kitchen to be completed.

I am very grateful to our congregation for their perseverance and their faith in the one and only Creator.

I took this photo during the construction of our new church building and loved the shadows on a late afternoon.  You can see the domes of two buildings in the background, the dome on the right is atop our old, 109-year old court house.  The tornado weakened the roof and the dome collapsed into the courtroom.  The dome on the left is our new judicial building that was close to completion when the tornado hit.  It had to have major reconstruction.

Through it all, when our faith was struggling and our strength seemed to be fading, God answered our prayers and reminded us that His Grace is sufficient for us.

As I write this, I am listening to a song by Jeremy Camp called “Same Power”.  He sings about “the same power that rose Jesus from the grave, the same power that commands the dead to wake, the same power that moves mountains when He speaks, the same power that can calm a raging sea, lives in us.  He lives in us.”

I know we have a long way to go.  We still have to pay for this building.   But we have already had one to commit her life to the Lord Jesus and was baptized.  There will be more.  There will be weddings and funerals and memories for the next generations of God’s people, if He permits.  He has blessed His people since the beginning of time and will continue till the end of time.  Then Jesus will usher in His Kingdom and I will see some of those I said good-bye to in that old building.

After the tornado,  I was interviewed by CBS reporter Anna Werner as we looked at the pile of rubble that was the old building and she asked me what it would mean to see a new building standing here.  I replied, “God always wins.”

He has won another victory for our small town.

If you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.


Michelangelo’s Jesus Bearing the Cross

I could not take my eyes off it.

“It” is a sculpture of Jesus bearing the cross by Michelangelo.  This piece stands in Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, the only Gothic church building in Rome.

This church was the scene of Galileo’s trial before the church in 1633.  This is a magnificent church  located about one block from the Pantheon.

Now I am not an art connoisseur by nature.  I do not profess to know anything about art, however like most people, I like to look at beautiful things.  Let me tell you this thing was beautiful.

There are not too many works that  mesmerize me in the art world, except maybe those hidden picture art pieces that were popular until everyone got eye strain looking at them.  Hopefully they were banned by the FDA or whatever government agency  controls fatigue-art.

I was able to sit on a pew in front of this statue with my wife and we just stared in amazement.

There was a reflection on the large marble column behind Jesus and the longer I gazed at him, I noticed the reflection was moving down toward him.  I waited until the reflection was behind his head.  At the right time, as it looked like a haloed crown,    I took some photos and got the result I wanted.  I had to shoot the picture at a fast ISO since it was dark inside the building, so it is a little grainy.  I did not want to use a flash,  most flashes are not allowed inside the historical churches of Rome.

No matter what has happened in the history of God’s church throughout the past two thousand years, this sculpture reminded me that Jesus is Lord of all and his sacrifice still covers the sins of man.  I don’t pretend to know the heart of Michelangelo, but I do know this, God was glorified that day in Rome.

I think my wife and I experienced the love of Christ and felt a little closer to God that day.  Because of the talent of one artist living in Italy over five hundred years ago, a couple from eastern Kentucky were blessed…that is truly amazing.

If you like this photo, you can see more here.

Gentle Shepherd

I have always loved the big stained glass windows in the West Liberty Christian Church.  I have tried many times to capture a good photo of this particular window.  In the summer when we would have choir practice in the late afternoon before sunset when the sun would be low in the sky, this window which faces west would glow at this time of the day.  It was a beautiful sight. 

I wanted to take a photo during the glow time in the late afternoon when it was the most radiant.  Unfortunately, this is also the most difficult time to photograph a stained glass window.  The exposure is very hard to get right because so much of the detail of the window will be “washed out”  in the bright light coming through the window. You just can’t follow the metering system in the camera.  Because of digital imaging, I don’t have to shoot up two rolls of film and still be disappointed because I did not get what I wanted. After numerous shots, I finally got something I could live with.

We lost our 102-year old building to the tornado that came through West Liberty earlier this year and with it went the three large stained glass windows. These windows brought me much comfort from the time I was a child til my inner child was housed in a 55-year old body.

I know in my Christian faith we are not supposed to have images of God and I know those images of Jesus in the windows did not look like the real Jesus of Nazareth, however they helped me meditate at times on who Jesus really is.  I am a follower of Jesus Christ and at times that is a very difficult thing for me and at other times it is so simple.  The difference in these times is my willingness to follow the Shepherd and hear His voice.  Usually I am the one lamb in the thicket or the crevice baa-ing for help, because I have gone off on my own looking for that greener pasture.

The Gentle Shepherd depicted in this window is forever calling me to follow Him.  I hope I can always answer that call.

If you like this photo you can see more here.