Posts Tagged ‘ Living Waters Presbyterian ’

Living Waters Presbyterian Church – Visited on 9/25/11

Beyond the main thoroughfares of business and travel the Carolina Piedmont’s roads are winding, lonesome things.  The ever-present forest shadows any traveler to either hand, save where the trees are hacked back to make room for human spaces and open sky.  Away from the towns these spaces are usually farmers’ fields or household lawns, whether they be old hardwood ranch homes or double-wide trailers.  The road slides round the summits of hills and hops over stream beds, an asphalt spiderweb cut into the green and brown that surrounds every little cluster of urban life in this state.

Living Waters Presbyterian Church sits on just such a plot carved from the forests, its entrance fortified by a simple cattle gate the likes of which can be found on any of the region’s farms.  A small parking lot surrounds the church itself, along with a field and a modest, scarecrow-watched garden.  The church itself is a plain aluminum-bulwarked rectangle, of the sort used by small manufacturing businesses across upstate South Carolina–before it was bought by the church, the property was used for warehousing.

When I arrived the congregation was still trickling in, availing itself of the coffee and breakfast food laid at one end of the sanctuary.  The interior of the church is plain and unadorned, lit with banks of institutional halogen lights and seated with rows of removable chairs.  Two linked flat screen televisions hang facing the congregation, to display scripture readings or song lyrics throughout the service, or to simply provide a splash of color with their screen savers in the otherwise austere space.

The people of Living Waters Presbyterian are an older set, many of them married couples without children in attendance.  Dress in the sanctuary was casual, and the atmosphere convivial–the members of Living Waters seem to have known each other for some time.  The morning I visited there were approximately 20 worshippers in attendance, but when all the church’s members gather they number around forty-five.

The pastor of Living Waters is Marty Taylor, a former businessman who, by his own description, made religion a part of his life after faith helped him overcome alcoholism in the 1990s.  He has worked as a pastor since 2000, and began ministering to the congregation that now worships at Living Waters in 2010.  He is a congenial, bespectacled middle-aged man, welcoming to strangers, who began the tradition at his church of worshippers voicing their prayers aloud, in turns, so that their fellows can join with them.  On the matter of Church and State, Taylor said that “God has instituted governments for the people, all governments are answerable to god.”  He believes that there is a certain amount of overlap between Church and State simply because there are religious people in government, and their beliefs inform the policies they enact: “Faith naturally expresses itself.”

The morning I visited, Rev. Taylor was dressed just as casually as his flock–moreso, as he wore a Brett Favre football jersey throughout the service in anticipation of the church’s “Football Kick-Off lunch” held after worship that day.  Yet his sermon that day, entitled “…Really?”, was stern.  He claimed the congregation was not personally committed to its church–Living Waters needed more volunteers to maintain the grounds, more donations to pay for its property’s upkeep, more activity from the congregation in general.  The church’s bulletin showed that Living Waters was over $500 behind on its weekly financial needs the week before, and over half the congregation was absent from church the day I visited, not because they could not come but because they did not attend every week.

Before Rev. Taylor arrived the congregation of Living Waters worshipped in a rented space at Bethel Elementary, not unlike other groups visited by Churchspotting.  The church bought its current space in 2010 and moved into the warehouse plot in February of 2011.  The church’s expenses grew considerably with its new property, but the congregation itself has not, and now financial troubles lurk in the background of its services.  Yet it’s been less than a year since Living Waters moved to its new location, and Churchspotting has certainly visited smaller churches that maintain equal facilities.  Living Waters remains a troubled church, but its future remains undecided.