Saturday, May 31, 2014

Photo of the Day

I hope Devin Manzullo-Thomas does not mind me stealing this photo from his blog The Search for Piety and Obedience.  (It actually comes from the Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives at Messiah College).

This is the Orlando Brethren in Christ Church in Orlando, Florida.  The picture was taken in the early 1950s. I am having a hard time processing this photo.  I realize my understanding of the reach of the Brethren in Christ Church (the founding denomination of Messiah College) in the 1950s is probably limited, but there is something about Orlando palm trees and this Anabaptist-oriented denomination that does not seem to fit.

Check out Manzullo-Thomas's post on the connection between this church and educational reformer Ernest Boyer.  Here is a taste:

...Boyer’s brief term of missionary service captures a unique period in the history of the Brethren in Christ. Boyer’s generation transformed the church community in significant ways. Only a few months before the Boyers’ move to Florida, a handful of Boyer’s contemporaries (and some from an older generation) attended a National Association of Evangelicals convention that proved ground-breaking for the denomination, and brought their changed perspectives back to their struggling denomination. Leaders of Boyer’s generation would invent Brethren in Christ historiography, innovate church growth and outreach methods, and provide much-needed theological guidance for a church in cultural transition.
That Boyer would — as his 1951 report suggests — seek to “carry on an appealing youth program” [3] reflects his socio-cultural location, and perhaps the influence of the young-obsessed Evangelical para-church movement. (Think Youth for Christ and their efforts to “win” youth to an attractive old-time religion through a blend of Evangelical piety and pop culture.) This was an increasing concern for Brethren in Christ leaders of Boyer’s generation. It resulted in the creation of Brethren in Christ initiatives like Christ’s Crusaders, and accelerated many of the cultural changes initiated by the Brethren in Christ in the 1950s and 1960s.