Yesterday I was pedaling west on First Avenue South in Avondale when I glanced over my shoulder and saw that a familiar site had a new look. For about the past 15 years people all over Birmingham have been painting the red bricks on their ranchers to give them an “updated” look. Now Faithful Few Baptist Church has done it too. And I must say the change is striking.
I know little about the congregation, but along with the New Pentecostal True Holiness Church of Love, which is about a mile to the east, it has one of my favorite church names. Perhaps the new exterior will motivate the few to be more faithful, or make the faithful more numerous. As the sign says “Jesus Saved. Sinners Wanted.”
It is also a vivid reminder of how the visual image of the cross, once seen as a Catholic symbol, has come to claimed by Baptists, the most Protestant of Protestants. For more on this transformation in the nineteenth century, see Ryan K. Smith, Gothic Arches, Latin Crosses (University of North Carolina Press). For the churches of Avondale see our map on Magic City Religion.