Howard Snyder – The Great Church Earthquake

It happened in 1947. A great earthquake demolished a big church building that had been used for centuries by a devout Christian congregation.

The building was almost completely destroyed. The roof had collapsed, covering the basement with debris. Still, the stately stone walls remained, little damaged.

The ruins stood abandoned for nearly a century. But then a new and growing congregation called Lifesong, looking for facilities, discovered this wreck and saw possibilities.

Lifesong bought the property, reroofed it, put in new windows and doors, repaired and modernized the interior, made it their church home. The sanctuary was totally redesigned. Folding chairs in a semicircular formation, rather than pews; a large, low platform to accommodate musical ensembles or dramas; two large video screens; a coffee bar near the entrance.

In remodeling the building the new congregation had installed a new floor, sealing off the old basement area. Some years later however, a staff member named Merlin found a small doorway almost hidden in the stone wall. It opened to a stairway leading to a storage room below ground—an area the church wasn’t aware of.

There was no light, so Merlin went to the church office, grabbed a flashlight, and went down to explore this subterranean storage room.

The first thing Merlin noticed was a large bookcase filled with dozens of books. All the books looked the same. Fairly large, dark blue, clothbound. What were they? Old Bibles?

He pulled one from the shelf and blew off the dust. Opening it, he found it was full of words and musical notations. Strange book! Some of the words seemed to rhyme. There were a hundred or more such books.

“What is this?!” Merlin wondered out loud.

He took the book back to his office and began leafing through it. Quite fascinating. He saw by the cover that it was called a “Hymnal.” He’d heard of such, but never actually seen one.

Read HERE the rest of this story. It is really worth it.


Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

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