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Presbyterian Church, Newman, IL

July 27, 2014

ILnewmanPres

Newman is in east central Illinois, not a part of the state that I’ve ever seen. The 2010 census registers a population of just 865, most of whom would probably fit in this wonderful example of a D-1 Akron-Auditorium church. Sadly, the google.earth street view hints that the building is closed and no longer being used—or maintained. Let’s hope not.

The status of Newman’s Presbyterian church has much to tell us about several issues in 21st-century America: the depopulation of small towns in rural areas; historic preservation in communities that struggle to maintain even municipal services; and the condition of mainstream denominational religion. But it also reminds us that, at least at one point in our history, we imagined large and built boldly. As a people, we were optimistic.

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, Or what’s a heaven for?”

UPDATE: 02 March 2016 — Patience has rewarded me with an exterior image of this church, showing it in happier days.

ILnewmanPres

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