Aging church far more than just a building

Published 12:45 am Sunday, October 28, 2012

The old Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Burlington may look like nothing more than a small, aging wooden structure with peeling white paint that has seen better days.

In fact, it is so much more.

The church, built in 1849, is a vital link to Lawrence County’s heritage and was once a symbol of freedom for African Americans escaping a life of slavery. A key part of the Underground Railroad, the church has connections to many of Lawrence County’s most famous abolitionists and other prominent citizens.

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Last week, vandals — most likely teenagers or children — desecrated the venerable house of worship by spray painting the number 666, a makeshift pentagram and “church of evil,” among other things.

This senseless act of vandalism is about more than just damaging the building. It came close to destroying our history.

Because the church is somewhat isolated on Burlington-Macedonia Road it becomes an easy target. But we, as the entire county, must try to do our part to preserve this link to the past.

That may require some more community watch efforts in Burlington. It may mean making some improvements that allow the building to be better secured, even if those aren’t exactly in context with the historical appearance of the structure. It may mean finding a way to use or showcase the building more frequently to ensure there are people there more often.

This important chapter in Lawrence County’s history could be lost forever if we allow it to be destroyed.

We must ensure that doesn’t happen.