Virginia Church not in Virginia

Written by somasoul : March 21, 2008

Small Church.jpgPossum Trot, VA/Harper, WV – Along route 250 in Harper WV sits a small white church. New Freedoms Community Church was founded in 2003 by Pastor Ben Taggart. Pastor Taggart, who graduated from seminary in 1988, had a dream to serve the rural peoples of western Virginia. When his small house church outgrew his living room he found St. Mark’s Methodist for sale not far from his home.“It was perfect” he says of the 150 year old building. “Sure, it had some minor issues but the congregation had taken really good care of it.”

But the existing congregation was so apt to leave the building behind they failed to mention that it wasn’t located in Virginia at all; but in Harper, West Virginia.

“It wasn’t that we were trying to hide anything from Mr. Taggart” said Matthew Whitlock, St. Mark’s Real Estate agent “It just didn’t come up.”

Taggart bought the church and received the original deed, dated May 19th 1858, and it is true that the church was squarely located in Virginia at that time. But in June 1863, in the midst of the Civil War, West Virginia seceded from Virginia which placed the 5 year old church in the hands of Union Forces.

Pastor Taggart did not know his church’s true location until Route 250 was repaved and a sign was placed 1/4 mile from his church: “Welcome to West Virginia: Buckle up it’s our law.”.

“It was a shock and it really messes up a lot of stuff. My heart is in Virginia. My home is in Virginia. We have the Virginia State Flag in the church foyer. Even our mission statement says ‘We are to be a light to the people of Virginia’” said Taggart. “I never wanted my ministry to be encumbered by having to serve two states. And I really like the rural folks in western Virginia not those inbred hicks in West Virginia.”

Indeed, Taggart seems to be “all about Virginia” said friend and congregation member Ted Hastings. “He feels that God called him to be in a place where anyone can carry concealed.”

Taggart had even gone so far as to begin a lawsuit against St. Mark’s, Advance Realty who handled the transaction, and also the state of West Virginia for failing to ever change the deed.

“My deed says Virginia. I bought a church in Virginia. All I want, really, is for the people responsible for the mix up to put the church on a truck and move it a half mile south.”

Whether or not that will happen remains to be seen. The church needs money for the lawsuit to go through but many of Taggart’s congregants have left for other congregations; especially those who live in Harper.

“Once Taggart figured out we lived in Harper he told us we were “Yankees” and made sarcastic comments about West Virginia from the pulpit.” said ex-parishioner Thomas Lance.

Harper exists well below the Mason-Dixon line putting it squarely in the South.

“Rural people have roots. I was born in Virginia. My parents were born in Virginia. My Grandparents were born in Virginia.” Taggart says.

“But I was born in Arkansas.” adds his wife, Shelly.

“And that, honey, is why you’ll never understand.” Ben Taggart explains with a smile.

Editor’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to real churches and/or people, while funny, are coincidental.

Author Bio:: Tim Baer is an urban Mennonite who lives in Baltimore with his four children, his wife, and a cat that pees everywhere but eats the mice so he can’t get rid of her. In his spare time he enjoys playing the drums, watching movies, and throwing down some mayhem in moshpits. He is also obsessed with Chik-Fil-A (A club, switch the meat, and a Dr. Pepper).

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Viewing 5 Comments

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    Even if this is a work of satire, some of us live under this dark threat. I live directly on the DE/MD state border and I live in constant fear that someday they will tell me that they surveyed wrong and I'm actually a Delaware resident. Truly it would be a nightmare to me.
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    I feel for this church. I mean, how can they be incarnational to Virginia if they're located in West Virginia. Now they're just a bunch of commuter Christians.
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    That's funny, Mark. And when I started writing this piece I tried to take it in that direction. I just couldn't get it to work. I'm dumb.

    Maybe I'll do some followup in a couple months.......................
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    I think it's great and came off exactly how you were wanting it to. Mark and I were cracking up when we first read this post. One of the best satire's in awhile.
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    Well done. Funny how when concepts which don't make sense across state borders seem to transform into legitimate issues when applied to national borders, as though God created the one but not the other. Wherever there is a straight line for a border someone got robbed.
    Nathanael Snow


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