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Baptist Church, East Greenwich, RI

June 7, 2017

The elderly mother of a former colleague was in a nursing home here in North Dakota during one of the George W. Bush campaigns. She was a lone Baptist here in the Land of Lutherans. During a conversation about the election with her fellow inmates — among whom GWB was a very popular candidate — one of the Lutheran ladies voiced approval for Mr Bush, whereupon my friend’s mother spoke favorably of the Democratic candidate. “But you’re a Baptist!” they protested. “Well, yes, I am a Baptist but that doesn’t mean I’m crazy,” she rejoined, which put a damper, I’m told, on the rest of the afternoon’s conversation. My point is that there is far more than a world of difference betwixt Northern and Southern Baptists, that is, between the ABC and SBC.

Rhode Island was, after all, Roger Williams’s colony and we should expect to find a different sort of Baptist imagery there than all those Colonial Revival imitations scattered across the Southern states — the stuff of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (which I detest as a work of architecture and a place of “higher learning”).

This exquisite Baptist church in East Greenwich looks even better than in the postcard image above. Dating from 1884, it may be too early for overt Akron influence, but the auditorium is obviously of the diagonal sort. An historic inventory report calls it Late Victorian in style, though I might be inclined toward the Shingle Style.



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