Archive for the ‘Vidette United Methodist Church Vidette Georgia’ Category

Happy to Be an Episcopalian   1 comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have belonged to three denominations and chosen one.  When my parents were Southern Baptists, so was I.  Likewise, in 1980, when my father left the ordained ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention for that of The United Methodist Church, I became a United Methodist at the age of seven years.  Thus, in June 1980, our family moved from Newington, Georgia, where he had been pastor of North Newington Baptist Church, and settled in the parsonage in Vidette, Georgia.  He served as the minister of the Vidette, Friendship, and Greens Cut congregations in Burke County.  In the ensuing years, I took the grand tour of rural southern Georgia.  My initial spiritual formation occurred within the context of rural Southern United Methodism, a different creature from United Methodism as it exists in much of the rest of the United States and the world.

Yet I have always had an inner Catholic.  The sacraments, central to my faith, were too infrequent in those rural United Methodist churches.  My attraction to the Deuterocanon (what many call the Apocrypha) asserted itself, also.  Furthermore, my interest in history, and therefore, in ecclesiastical history, made me an outlier in the congregations my father served.  Church history, as it existed in those places, started with Jesus, ran consistently through the Apostles, jumped to the Crusades, jumped again to Martin Luther, ran forward, and really started sprinting with John and Charles Wesley.  That version of church history left many gaps.

In the autumn of 1991, I started my studies at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Tifton, Georgia.  I started attending services at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, on the Sunday after All Saints’ Day.  On December 22, 1991, Bishop Harry Woolston Shipps confirmed me.  I remained in the Diocese of Georgia through 2005, belonging to the following congregations:

  1. Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta, Georgia (1993-1996),
  2. St. Thomas Aquinas Episcopal Church, Baxley, Georgia (1996-1998),
  3. Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, Georgia (1998-2001),
  4. Trinity Episcopal Church, Statesboro, Georgia (2001-2003), and
  5. Christ Episcopal Church, Dublin, Georgia (2003-2005).

I have worshiped as a member of St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, in the Diocese of Atlanta, since August 2005.

I have enjoyed the liberty of being a layman and the pleasure of belong to congregations that respect scholarship and encourage the asking of questions.  My father, as a pastor, censored himself; he made honest theological statements at home he dared not utter from a pulpit.  I did not feel free to ask certain questions in those churches.  In Episcopal churches, however, I have asked questions freely and heard priests utter statements (not all of whom I agreed with) that would have gotten my father into great trouble.  The threshold for offending people was low in his case; my father once offended people by supporting the Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday.  That position contributed to us moving.  On another occasion, he upset a parishioner by preaching that Jesus had a sense of humor.  He had allegedly insulted her Jesus.  The District Superintendent did not take the complaint seriously, fortunately.

Many of my statements on my weblogs, such as this one, would have cooked my goose in those churches.

So be it.  I refuse to back down from my Catholic tendencies and my acceptance of Single Predestination.  I refuse to back down from my support of civil rights (and not just based on skin color), of Biblical scholarship, and science.

I am where I belong–in The Episcopal Church.  Thanks be to God!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JAMES BAR-ZEBEDEE, APOSTLE AND MARTYR

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Abandoned Storefronts, Vidette, Georgia   1 comment

Image scanned from Angela Lee, Images of America:  Burke County, Georgia (1996)

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My mother, father, sister, and I lived in Vidette, Georgia, from June 1980 to June 1982.  He was the minister of the Vidette, Greens Cut, and Friendship United Methodist Churches in rural Burke County, about the size of Rhode Island.

The buildings in the photograph above were still standing as late as February 1999, as Google Earth proves:

Now, however, only two of the five buildings remain.

Photographer Brian Brown posted an image of the two remaining buildings to one of his weblogs, Vanishing South Georgia, in 2014.

I remember the five buildings.  Look, O reader at the top photograph.  I recall that that building second from the right had been a bank.  I remember standing inside that structure as a child.

The decline of small towns such as Vidette is sad.  Although I have no desire to live in such a small, rural town again, I care deeply about disparities in society.  According to demographic predictions I have heard recently, 87% of Americans will live in cities and in eight states in 2040, thereby exasperating the rural-urban divide.  The truth of rural areas belies one of the many recent lies of the current, temporary occupant of the Oval Office; America is not full.  Rather, it has many empty spaces.  Many of them are in rural Georgia.

I want small, rural towns such as Vidette to be lively and economically vibrant.  We, as a society, cannot leave the rural areas behind and be the best we can be.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Vidette, Georgia   1 comment

Above:  Burke County, Georgia, U.S.A., 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

“37” indicates the Georgia and Florida Railway, which ran between Madison, Florida, and Greenwood, South Carolina.

“24” indicates the Central of Georgia Railway, now Railroad.

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My father was a minister in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church from 1980 until 2014, when he died.  He served–and we lived–mostly in rural places, plentiful in southern Georgia.  The first of those, from June 1980 to June 1982, when I was 7-9 years old, in the Second and Third Grades, was Vidette, in Burke County.  The charge had three congregations:  Vidette, Greens Cut, and Friendship.  The parsonage, a run-down old house probably about the age of the town, was next to the Vidette Church.

Vidette was one of the small towns that developed at crossroads in western Burke County in the first decade of the twentieth century.  When the old Georgia and Florida Railway (built mostly from 1906 to 1911) built lines in that part of the county, new towns came into being.  The town existed by 1909, when a wedding, a record of which I found via Google, occurred there.  Vidette reached its peak population of about 600 in the 1920s.  Various factors led to the decline of population in that part of rural Burke County.  Many African Americans left the Jim Crow South as part of the Great Migration, starting in 1915.  In the South, where cotton was king, the boll weevil, an insect introduced into Georgia in 1915, devastated the cotton crop, reducing yields by half by 1923.  The decline in the population in many rural counties in Georgia was evident in the comparison of the results of the federal censuses of 1920 and 1930.

When my family and I lived in Vidette the population was close to 100.  Our mailing address contained the words “Louisville, Georgia.”  (Now the mailing addresses for residents of Vidette contain “Midville, Georgia.”)  The worship space of the Vidette United Methodist Church obviously dated to a time when the population was closer to 600.  The other congregation in town of which I have retained memories was the Bethel Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which dissolved in 2015.  Its property has transferred to the new Bethel Mennonite Church.  Most Presbyterians in Vidette have been worshiping in either Louisville or Waynesboro, I suppose.

Above:  A Map of the Georgia and Florida Railway, 1918

Image Source = http://phumyvungtaurental.com/map-of-georgia-and-florida/georgia-florida-railway-1918-system-map-map-of-georgia-and-florida-908-x-713-pixels/

By law images produced in the United States of America prior to 1923 are in the public domain.

By 1980 the railroad no longer came to Vidette.  One source I consulted indicated that the Hepzibah-Midville line of the Georgia and Florida Railroad closed in 1966.  Yet the Rand McNally World Atlas (1968) still showed the Georgia and Florida Railroad passing through western Burke County.  Perhaps someone forgot or neglected to update a map.  In 1980-1982 evidence of the railroad was visible on the eastern edge of town, near and parallel to Railroad Avenue and across from only store in town as well as the abandoned storefronts.  Two of the abandoned storefronts have survived; there used to be five of them.  By 1980 Vidette High School, on North College Avenue, next to Rose Dhu Cemetery, had closed.  Only the gymnasium has survived.

Above:  Vidette, Georgia, October 2016

From Google Earth

Last year the population of Vidette was 109.  A few moments ago, when last I checked the listing for Vidette United Methodist Church at the Find-a-Church feature of the denominational website, I read “Congregation:  12.”  Whether that was a reference to total membership, active membership, or average Sunday attendance, the implication for the continued existence of the congregation has not changed from destined to close sooner rather than later.

As of August 17, 2018, Vidette United Methodist Church, once a station church served by a retired minister, is half of a charge with Mount Moriah United Methodist Church, north of Matthews, in neighboring Jefferson County.  There is almost nothing left of Matthews either.  The minister lives in the Mount Moriah parsonage.  Friendship United Methodist Church, once on a charge with First United Methodist Church, Waynesboro, is on a charge with Greens Cut United Methodist Church, formerly a station church.  The current Friendship-Greens Cut arrangement makes much sense.

These rural areas are depopulating for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that most of those young people who can get away from them do.  Economic disadvantages of rural areas compound each other, so these vast territories spiral downward into deeper structural poverty.  Improvement is difficult, not impossible.  However, it will require a long time, for the entrenched problems are long-standing.

In the meantime, why would a young person with an education and professional prospects choose to live in Vidette?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 17, 2018 COMMON ERA

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Reconstructed Floor Plan of the Late Parsonage of the Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia   Leave a comment

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have been continuing my stroll down memory lane in Burke County, Georgia, where my family and I lived from June 1980 to June 1982.  I have worked from a combination of photographs and memories.  Photographs have stirred up memories.  For example, an old Google Street View image has reminded me of how small the car port (immediately outside the back door) was and shown a chimney on the back of the house) that I did not recall.  A scale on the image I scanned in my previous Vidette post has helped me to measure the house.

The placement of rooms is correct.  Precise dimensions and approximate placements of doors and windows are generally less certain, however.  I recall a door connecting the bathroom to the master bedroom, but not where in the bathroom it was.  I am not certain of the dimensions of the front room and my bedroom either, or whether only right angles defined them.  I also seem to remember a door between the kitchen and the dining room, but not precisely where.

Either way, looking at this floor plan stirs up more memories.  I have clear memories of certain moments in some of those rooms, for example.  The number of these is increasing.

From my temporal perspective, as fallible as it is, I recognize the truth of the old statement that the child is the father of the man.  I also understand that the range of piety within United Methodism, especially its Southern rural variants, does not fit me.  I know for sure that life in very small towns does not agree with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 25, 2017 COMMON ERA

Vidette United Methodist Church Parsonage, January 29, 2015   1 comment

Above:  A Scan of a Printout of a Satellite Image, Courtesy of Google Earth

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Key:  

1 = Front porch

2 = Front steps

3 = Front room

4 = Sister’s bedroom

5 = Dining room

6 = Kitchen

7 = Den

8 = Car port

9 = Master bedroom

10 = My bedroom

11= Bathroom

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My past–especially the two years (June 1980-June 1982) I spent in Vidette, Georgia, continue to fascinate me.

I have posted about the town, church, parsonage here, here, and here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS.  At ORIGINAL POEMS AND FAMILY HISTORY BLOG I have posted germane posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  I have also found an image of the church building from Easter Sunday 1971 here.

Now I offer an analysis of the house based on the last satellite image of the house I can find, for the image dated October 30, 2016, shows where the house was.  The combination of photographic evidence from the family archives (in my possession) and my memories makes me confident that I am correct in my estimation of the internal arrangement of the now-demolished structure, which was well into its decline when my family and I lived there.  The scale on the image leads me to estimate that the house was about 1100 square feet, excluding the front porch and the car port.

All of this strolling down memory lane makes me grateful to live where I do–in Athens, Georgia, a city with many amenities.  I have my choice of grocery stores just a few miles away from my home, as opposed to having to take a trip 20 or so miles to Waynesboro, for example.

It is indeed good to know what one has while one has it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 24, 2017 COMMON ERA

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Growing Into Myself   1 comment

Learning from My Past

Recently I have spent much time plumbing the depths of my memory regarding some of my childhood years, especially the two years spanning June 1980-June 1982, when my family and I lived in Vidette, Georgia.  I have covered much of that ground on this weblog, as in a post about memories and another one regarding the now-demolished parsonage at Vidette.  As I have examined old photographs, studied images from Google Earth, and poured over artifacts from that time, I have pondered who I was then–at the ages of seven, eight, and nine years–and why I was that way.  I have done this out of a desire to, as much as possible, stand on the ground of objective reality, not to assign blame.

Besides, what good would assigning blame in these matters accomplish?  Stating objective reality, however, proves helpful.

To borrow a line from Sigmund Freud, the child is the father of the man.  For once I agree with the figure my Psychology 101 professor referred to as “Sigmund Fraud.”  The child is the father of the man; this is self-obvious.  Our early experiences shape us, for better and worse.  I can trace intergenerational influences upon my development back as far as two great-grandfathers.  Many more intergenerational influences upon me exist, I am sure, but I cannot document them.  Many of the positive and negative influences upon me reach back at least to George Washington Barrett (1873-1956) and John Dodson Taylor, Sr. (1860-1936).   Understanding that many of the positive and negative aspects of my past are partially due to previous generations proves helpful in determining an objectively accurate understanding of my past.

Another factor, of course, is me.  How I respond to various stimuli is my responsibility.  Yet I know I should refrain from being too harsh toward my younger selves, for, as much as I ought to forgive others, I need to forgive myself also.  Without making undue excuses, I focus on acknowledging and learning from my past.

Just as my parents did the best they could much of the time, so did I.  Just they made mistakes, so did I.

I harbor no ill will toward them or myself.  No, I embrace the exploration of my past for the purpose of learning more about who I was and who I am.  I seek lessons regarding how I should proceed from the present.  To dismiss the past as irrelevant (“That’s history.”) is wrong-headed.  To live in it is also erroneous.  I embrace my younger selves and thereby understand myself better than I did.  I focus not on sins and errors, but on growth.

We human beings learn by doing.  If we do not attempt anything, we will fail by default.  If we do attempt something, we risk failure.  We might also succeed.  Hopefully we will learn the proper lessons, regardless of whether we succeed or fail in our ventures.

One lesson I have learned from analyzing my past is that moving as often as I did during my childhood (every two or three years, usually) was more of a negative factor than a negative one.

This was beyond my control; I was just a child in a parsonage family.  My way of coping was to become more inwardly focused.  This was easy for me, an introvert.  I chose not to get too close to anyone, for I knew I would not be staying long.  This made saying goodbye easier than it would have been otherwise.  Yet the protective bubble I entered became self-destructive.  Opening myself up to others has been my great project for the last few years.  My father, with his entrenched inferiority complex, contributed greatly to these moves.  He perceived the world through a filter that led him to react to other people in ways that were not helpful.  I recall hearing him complain about many patronizing people, for example.  Some of them were patronizing, I am sure, but not all of them were.  Yet he acted as if they were.  That caused needless problems for him, my mother, my sister, and myself.  The blame for moves was not only his, however; each of those congregations included people notorious for engineering the departures of ministers.  I have come to sympathize with my father (now deceased).  He struggled with that inferiority complex and with the frustration of constantly being a fish out of water.  He did the best he could.  I was not kind and understanding toward him when he was alive.  I did not do the best I could.  I have forgiven myself for that sin.

As I strive to move along the proper course into the future, I seek to do so unencumbered by guilt and resentment yet aware of my previous path.  The future-not the past–awaits.  Many of what I perceive as my missteps may have actually prepared me for a better future.  My record lacks certain large mistakes because I have learned from smaller errors, for example.  Also, grace can transform a negative into an opportunity for the positive.  I look to the future, therefore, and hope and work for the best.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 3, 2017 COMMON ERA

Site of the Former Parsonage, Vidette United Methodist Church, Vidette, Georgia   4 comments

Related to my previous post is this one.

I visited Google Earth again and saved some pictures of the Vidette United Methodist Church, the former parsonage (in street view, dated January 2008 and August 2008) and of the site where the parsonage was (from above, dated October 30, 2016).  Then I cropped one of those images, inserted it into a Word document, and dredged up memories from 1980-1982.

I have examined this fuzzy image, for which I have no street view counterpart yet.  I have noticed the shadow in it–presumably from a chimney.  In my bedroom I did have a closed-up fireplace with a heater in front of it.  That chimney had therefore marked one corner of the site of my former bedroom.

My memories regarding the dining room are vague.  I recall about where it was (between the kitchen and my sister’s bedroom), but I do not recall the relative size of the room.  I am likewise vague about the size of the kitchen.  It was a small house, however, so none of the rooms was cavernous.

I will not post any of the saved images, except for scan of a printed, black-and-white version of a cropped satellite photograph.  I do, however, encourage any of you who might to curious to look up Vidette in Google Earth, find the church and the site of the parsonage next to it.  Finding the church should not be difficult, for the town is really small.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 28, 2017 COMMON ERA