Nikon D70s, 1/160 sec, f6.3, ISO 200, 105mm equivalent (click to enlarge)
This is the now long-abandoned remains of Rathbarry Church, on the Castlefreke estate, near Rosscarbery. It was quite a gloomy day so I greatly appreciated the fact that the clouds parted just enough to allow the sun to light up the ruins for the photo. This light only lasted a few seconds and then was gone again. It seemed to us that access to the church was no longer available, but I was reliably informed the other day that as the church yard is still open for burials, the track leading to it is a public right of way. The local land owner has made a convincing attempt to make it look as though you would be taking a very grave (excuse the pun) risk in setting foot on the road, but maybe next time we are taking a walk on the nearby beach at Long Strand we’ll take a better look.
Seeing closed and derelict church buildings dotted around the countryside (of which there are many) could cause one to be a little downcast at the current state of the Church today. “Numbers are not what they were you know”. A Rector taking a service at which there are six people present (including the Rector) is encouraged by the words “In my day there were at least oooh ten thousand people in these pews at 5.30 am on a Sunday morning” and clergy are blessed by tales of how “in the good ol’ days” they had great fun breaking the ice in the font in order to baptise the queues waiting outside. Make no mistake, these are challenging times.
I’ve always had a great respect for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors with no boundaries, frontiers or borders) and I just love the name and what it means and what it implies. Of course, the same idea is true of the Church also. We are (or at least we should be) a church without boundaries, frontiers or borders. Yes we meet together in buildings that are beautiful, historic (and cold and costly) but we are not limited by them. Even if we had no buildings we would still exist (though the buildings committee might have to find something else to do). A “church without walls” is not a new concept, but it ever remains an attractive one…