Be completely humble, and gentle, be patient, bearing with one another with love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6
Over the last week, I have been participating in a photo challenge through social media. Each day there is a category of which a photo is to be posted. For example, one day it was “bloom” and I posted a picture of a rose bud in bloom from my yard. As each day passes there is a new category.
One particular day the category was stone. I scanned through my photos trying to find a picture that would be unique but yet fit the category of stone. I had many nature pictures of rocks and various other pictures of buildings/churches that fit into the category of “stone.”
Through my scrolling, I came across this picture of The Pink Chapel I had taken in St. Simons, Georgia several years back. The building is made of stone and with the Spanish moss I thought this would be something unique to share not thinking about the story behind it. So, I posted the picture with appropriate tags for this photo challenge.
Then, it happened. There were “likes” for this picture and then the organization that was hosting the photo challenge commented back, ” Wow! What is the story behind this chapel.” It was then when I had second thoughts about what I had posted. Yes, this is a chapel but a chapel with a very sad story.
The more I thought about the story and shared the story with the organization the more I questioned my sharing the picture. Yet, as I prayed about it and thought it through, I came to know even more how God can use ALL things to get his message to his people. Thus, after many re-writes on the response on instagram to the comment, I shared an brief explanation of the Pink Chapel’s story.
The Story of the Pink Chapel
This chapel was built in 1838. It got its name from the pink lichen that grew on the walls and surrounding area. Just like other historical places on St. Simons Island it has its own share of ghost stories, myths/folklore. Some of the untrue stories include that it was a place where slaves were beaten and some stories claimed it was a place for devil worship. However, these stories are far from the truth regarding the chapel.
In 1838 there were two families, the Wylly family and the Hazzard family. Col. William Hazzard owned the West Point Plantation. His brother, Thomas owned Pike’s Bluff Plantation. There was another plantation called The Village that adjoined Col. Hazzards property. John Wylly was the owner of the Village Plantation. Both of these families were members of Christ Church.
The bitterness between Col. Hazzard and John Wylly was over property lines. It seems they couldn’t even agree to disagree. Thus, bitterness tension grew between these two men.
It got so bad that Thomas Hazzard and John Wylly were called to come to Brunswick to settle this dispute. It was decided that the dispute would be settled with a duel. John Wylly was shot by Thomas Hazzard in cold blood. Thomas Hazzard was later acquitted for this act of murder. Due to Thomas Hazzard being acquitted for the murder, the neighbors began to turn their backs on them. Needless to say, bitterness and hatred between the Hazzard and Wylly families only grew to be very intense.
The Rubber Meets The Road
The tension between the two families became so great that they would enter the church grounds through separate gates. Over time the Hazzard family grew tired of the hostile enviroment that had been created so they decided to build their own church. Thus, the Pink Chapel was built. This was a place where the Hazzard family and the people of the West Point Plantation and Pike’s Bluff Plantation would worship.
This particular chapel was built out of hostility towards a neighbor, church family members and the unwillingness to seek and extend forgiveness and God’s grace. I told you it was a sad story.
It saddens me to think and realize that there are pink chapels being built today. Church families can’t agree on certain things. Someone has hurt/offended someone. Instead of seeking and extending grace and forgiveness, they simply store up the anger and the bitterness. A hostile environment is created instead of a hospitable environment. They enter the building on opposite ends and doors. Then it happens one day where they have had enough and one or the other leaves to build their own church. I can’t imagine building a church that is not out of the call of reaching out to others, and glorifying God.
The church is not just a building. It is a place that has a heartbeat. The heartbeat is the people within the church. As Believers, we are to love one another, encourage, forgive, seek and extend grace. It is important that we walk the talk of what being a Christian means. There are times when we all are going to stumble. None of us are perfect. It is in those moments of when we stumble we need to swallow our pride and ask for forgiveness. There are times where there are those in our church family that are going to stumble. As Christians, we are responsible for helping the person back up on their feet, pray for them and ask for God’s grace to intervene.
Have I ever been offended? Yes, I have experienced such moments in my lifetime. It is called being human. Early on in my growing up my mom taught me what it means to forgive. No matter how bad someone hurt me I was encouraged by her to forgive them and ask for their forgiveness even if I didn’t do anything or think I did anything to create the situation. In those moments, I forgave and extended the hand of friendship and grace. I see those moments as life lessons. In some situations, I received some of the greatest blessings along with the lessons. Over time, I have learned how important it is to forgive and move on. I must keep my eyes on the cross seeking God’s grace and allow him to lead.
Today, we live in a world that is moving at a fast pace. More and more people are looking for answers. The non-believers are watching how the Believers act and react to one another especially within the walls of the church. I love the quote from DC Talk’s song, What If I Stumble,” The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips. Then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world finds simply unbelievable. “
At this moment, I ask you if a neighbor has done something to make you angry? Is there a dispute with someone and it just seems it never will be resolved? Is there someone within the church that has hurt/offended you? Is there bitterness being harbored within your heart?
If you said yes to any of these questions, I encourage you to kneel at the feet of Jesus. Place the person (s) and/or situation(s) at His feet. Extend the grace God has so freely given you through the blood of his Son, Jesus.
May we remember that the church is for the broken. It is a place where we can come and be loved on no matter our flaws, our falls or stumbles we make in life. It is my prayer that pink chapels are not built. Instead, churches are built to glorify God, aligning their footsteps with the Word of God. The people of the church need to be living out loud the scriptures. We must reach out to an unbelieving world and let them know that there is life eternal. Most importantly, walk in His grace every single minute of everyday that is given to us.
How about it? Instead of building pink chapels, let’s make the heartbeat of the church even stronger so that those looking from the outside in will want to come in and experience that wonderful joy that we receive when we experience God’s marvelous grace!
Take time to listen to this beautiful song, Forgiveness by Matthew West.