RELIGION
07/31/2015 05:15 pm ET

These Abandoned Rural Churches Are Still Powerful Sacred Spaces

Holy ground indeed.

Some people think dilapidated, abandoned buildings should be torn down, but photographer and historian Kelly Micheau Gomez sees these buildings as gateways to another time.

"Where others might see filth, decay, and paranormal conjuring, I see a story of a structure that sits like a dog-eared page in a history book that has been forgotten," Gomez told The Huffington Post in an email.

Abandoned churches are particularly striking for Gomez. The 31-year-old from Gainesville, Florida has photographed over 40 decaying churches in six southeastern states.

For early American settlers, a church represented commitment to the land they'd chosen. It was a symbol of their intentions to lay down roots and build a long-lasting community for themselves and for their children.

Even though it's often been years since they were last used, when Gomez steps inside these buildings she gets the strong feeling that she's walking on sacred ground.

"Although they might appear desolate and forgotten, they were once places where people gathered to support one another in good and bad times," she told HuffPost. "Four walls in between which memories were created, relationships were built, and life was lived."

See more of Gomez's work on the "Far Enough Photo" blog, or follow her on Instagram

 

  • Southwest Alabama, c. 1853
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span>This old Presbyterian church was likely built by slaves from a nearby plantation, just before the Civil War. There are
    Far Enough Photo
    This old Presbyterian church was likely built by slaves from a nearby plantation, just before the Civil War. There are separate entrances for men, women, and slaves along with a slave gallery inside."Imagine how much the world around this place would change in just a few short years and how different life would be for its congregation," Gomez writes. For more on this site, click here. 
  • North Florida, c. 1885
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span style="color: #555555;">The&nbsp;<span>Island Grove Methodist Church served north Florida's&nbsp;farmers, fishermen and
    Far Enough Photo
    The Island Grove Methodist Church served north Florida's farmers, fishermen and citrus growers for nearly a century, Gomez says. But as the economy of the area changed and industry shifted further south, the church was left behind and forgotten."A building like this is a museum in its most real, unadulterated form," Gomez writes. For more on this site, click here 
  • Near Gainesville, Florida, 1890
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span style="color: #555555;">The&nbsp;Trinity M.E. Church served a rural&nbsp;<span>citrus farming community&nbsp;in north F
    Far Enough Photo
    The Trinity M.E. Church served a rural citrus farming community in north Florida. The site was abandoned in the 1950s."I can’t help but imagine the final sermon delivered on the altar and the last person who shut the door and locked it," Gomez writes. For more on this site, click here. 
  • Ben Hill County, GA c. 1875
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span style="color: #555555;">The interior of this&nbsp;church in rural Georgia is painted a striking color called "haint blu
    Far Enough Photo
    The interior of this church in rural Georgia is painted a striking color called "haint blue." According to Gomez, this color carried special spiritual significance for Gullah people, who were slaves from western Africa. "The Gullahs believe that haints (or haunts) are malevolent and vengeful spirits trapped in between the world of the living and dead," Gomez writes. "These haints cannot cross water however, so, they created a rustic paint blend that resembled the color of water to confuse these spirits." For more on this site, click here 
  • Beaufort County, South Carolina, c. 1755
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span style="color: #555555;">The Sheldon Church has a fascinating history, stretching back to August of 1669, &nbsp;Gomez<sp
    Far Enough Photo
    The Sheldon Church has a fascinating history, stretching back to August of 1669,  Gomez reports. That year, a lawyer named Stephen Bull set sail from Sheldon, England, to make the treacherous journey to the Americas. Three ships left England, but Bull's was the only one to land in present-day South Carolina. Bull's descendants would go on to build this Greek Revival-style church, which played a role in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars. It was torched by Union troops in January 1865 and has remained abandoned since then. For more on this site, click here 
  • Glynn County, Georgia, c. 1870s
    Far Enough Photo
  • <span style="color: #555555;">Former slaves built the Needwood Baptist Church roughly&nbsp;a decade after the Civil War. "</s
    Far Enough Photo
    Former slaves built the Needwood Baptist Church roughly a decade after the Civil War. "Imagine for a minute how it must have felt to have been able to openly observe their faith for the first time," Gomez writes. Right next door, the slaves' descendants built a one room schoolhouse, which was the only place that the community could receive education until desegregation in the 1960s. For more on this site, click here. 
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