After lunch and a few more failed attempts at hospitals and schools, our wanderings brought us to another unassuming church, the “Miracle Faith Word Center”. Judging just from the name, it seemed to be of the charismatic, if not Pentecostal, type: the kind of church that began with one minister and his flock and with the right combination of generous donations, fire, brimstone and praise the Lord Hallelujah AMEN! could have joined the ranks of televised megachurches. This one, though, followed the opposite trajectory, disappearing altogether and leaving its building behind not for a sparkling new tabernacle, but for first the pastor’s basement for a while, then total obscurity by 2005.
From the outside, the church was quite unassuming, looking more like a rather ramshackle assortment of buildings than one coherent structure, and probably not meant to have been a church in the first place. Finding an entrance wasn’t easy, especially with the neighborhood’s resident (the only one still living on an almost entirely abandoned street) out raking his lawn.
This being Gary, though, we asked him if he knew anything about it, and if he’d mind us going in. He didn’t know anything about his abandoned church neighbor, but he didn’t mind if we had a look inside, so when we finally found a door that opened, we did just that, since I for one wasn’t about to climb into this:
It was clear from the start that this was the kind of church that loved its sermons. The pastor and deacon collected them meticulously, then left them all behind, on thousands and thousands of cassette tapes, which filled one room and strew across the floor of a few others.
Another room, probably the vestry at one time, had shelves of shrunken mannequin heads… I wonder what these were for?
The sanctuary is a simple room in the low church style, which reminded me more than it should have of a basketball court.
More of the hodgepodge architectural style – count the doorways and stairways wedged into this foyer
It seems like they saved all their old pews and threw them in the basement. Or this was another sanctuary, or another church altogether, that took on piles of junk over the years. I’m not even sure.
Going back downtown again, we found still more open doors at the Palace Theater. Even by Gary standards this place was a disaster, but it still had a few signs left of what once was, when this was a thriving city.
It was too collapsed to really get much farther… even while we were inside the ominous THUD! of another restless brick freeing itself of the ceiling let us know not to trust the structure for very long!
[continued in part 6]