Saturday, February 14, 2009

Old St. Paul's Lutheran Church

Old St. Paul's Lutheran Church is located in Newton, NC and is said to be the oldest church in Catawba County. While the congregation now worships in a newer building, which was built in the 1950s, the older Old St. Paul's still stands. The beautifully historical building was built in 1818, by a young man of only 18 years old. His name was Henry Cline and he built the church in just six short months using hand hewn logs and handmade nails. I was shocked to learn that this church seats 250 worshipers. There are two levels, with a wonderful old staircase leading to the gallery for the slaves of the members. Laura Anne Harrison, a current member of the church who is writing a book on the history of this wonderful landmark, pointed out to me the various differences of seating in the church. While the slaves were seated upstairs, the women, girls and very small children sat on a different side of the church than the men. The pews on the "women's side" are slightly different than that of the men. The back of the women's pews were open in order to accomodate their bustled dresses and their pews also had foot rails. The foot rails provided a way for the mother to comfortably hold her child on her lap during the very long service.

The church interior is absolutely breathtaking. The wonderful pulpit is up a few stairs, making it easy to see from the lower and upper seating areas. Above the pulpit is a strange looking item, called a "sounding board". The old rumor was that if the pastor told a lie, that sounding board would come crashing down on him.

A church this old is bound to have a ghost story or two. The most famous story is about a slave owner and his runaway slave. Legend says that in 1861, a Colonel Hildebran tracked one of his escaped slaves to the church and found him hiding in the upper level of the church. He shot and killed him right there in the church balcony.

A winding staircase takes you up to the balcony, where blood stains on the floor tell the story of the slave who died in the church. Some have claimed to hear the old organ still in the church, playing at random times. Colonel Hildebran is said to have died mysteriously several years later, at the young age of 32.

Old St. Pauls has a lovely cemetary, with the oldest grave marker belonging to a German gentleman born in 1702. The marker is inscribed in German and states, "Here lies in peace our beloved Abraham Mauser. He was old". These earliest markers are made from soap stone, are handmade and oddly enough, still very legible. The cemetary offers its own haunted look to the church, with many broken markers laying about. Some markers were so tiny, one can only assume they belonged to children. Many of the markers date back to before the Revolutionary War and as I walked through the cemetary, I was reminded of all the local men who perished in the Civil War. It is a humbling experience to see so many men who passed away in their 20s and 30s as they fought and died for what they believed in. It is very hard not to wonder about the lives, and deaths of those buried beneath the wonderfully historic soil. Anyone who has a free Saturday should travel to Newton for a tour of this beautiful church and its wonderous cemetary. It is truly a step back in time. Take it from me, you will not want to leave.

I would like to thank Rev. Paul Christ
for allowing me to view this lovely church during a time of year in which they normally do not do tours. I also want to express my gratitude to Laura Anne Harrison, who provided me with pages and pages of information on this church I grew up so close to, but knew so little about. This project reminded me that the southern hospitality on which this church was built, and for which its members died, is still very much alive.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

INTRODUCTION: Self Portrait & Statement

Hi Everyone! My name is Brooke. I am married and have 2 beautiful daughters. May 09 will bring me a BLS degree. I am so excited and very ready!

Speaking of these 2 beautiful daughters of mine, there are aspects of the media today that scare me a little. While I don't want to be an overbearing mother and monitor my daughter's TV watching like a drill sergeant, I do want to be aware of what they are absorbing every time they turn on the TV. I remember the first time I had to stop my oldest from watching something. She was about 4 and she was watching cartoons one evening. I walked by the living room a few times and thought "She's Okay. She's watching cartoons". What I didn't realize until I sat down was that she was watching "Family Guy". While some adults may find this show funny, I was shocked to see it was completely inappropriate for my 4 year old to be watching. For the first time as a mom, I had to say "Honey, I don't want you watching this again". Luckily, she said "Okay" and turned it to Spongebob. Whew!

That was my introduction into the part of parenting that makes me have to monitor what they're exposed to and it's something I have to think about a lot. Right now, they are 3 and 8, so it's pretty easy. Their choices of shows and movies include anything generated by Disney and mostly animated things. But, this week when I watched The Exorcist for class, I did have to explain to my girls that they weren't allowed in Mommy's room while she watched that movie. It's just not something I was ready for them to see. I think it's hard to explain to a young child, especially my 3 year old, that what they're seeing isn't real. And, let's face it, walking in to see Reagan's head spinning around might be a little traumatizing!

It's very easy to see how pop culture affects children at very young age. Now that we have younger children in The White House, I've caught my 8 year old watching "The Early Show" diligently in the mornings as they talk about the Obama girls. Let's face it, the fact that The Jonas Brothers showed up at The While House is making every pre-pubescent girl in the US insanely jealous of those Obama girls!

Media doesn't affect just children either. Adults are affected as well. The media, in the form of magazines, commercials, movies and song, tell us what to wear, how to look and how much we should eat. Look at the diet fads that are constantly advertised on TV. When you think about how much of your life is affected by media, it's almost scary. Why is my house decorated the way it is...well, I saw it on HGTV. Why did I buy this sweater...well, the model in the magazine had it on. The media tells us what's popular...and more times than not, we listen.

The one website I check out a lot is I get news updates throughout the day at work and that particular site keeps me on top of all that's happening in the world.