Beside the house into which I was born, sits a small plot of land. Over 40 years ago my grandfather labored and toiled until he had ﬁlled this entire ﬁeld with fruit trees. A ﬁeld, full of peaches and pears.
I can actually remember walking through that ﬁeld with my grandfather when I was young. I remember him plucking ripe peaches and peeling them right there in the ﬁeld with his ever-present pocket knife. To this day I can still taste the sweetness, the warmth of that fruit. It was incredible.
Today, some 40 years later, when I return to my parent’s home and I stand on the front porch, looking out into my grandfather’s former ﬁeld, I see nothing. It’s all gone.
Due to a combination of disease, neglect, storms, and the general negative eﬀects associated with the passing of time, all of those trees that at one time had been so carefully planted, cultivated and cared for, are gone. All, except for one tree. One lone pear stands as a memorial to what was once a vibrant ﬁeld ﬁlled with trees that bore good fruit and brought sustenance and delight through countless years.
There is a deep sadness that I experience as I relay this simple story from my history. And yet, it is not a sadness which I carry alone. You see, while this story of ﬁeld and of fruit is truly about a childhood orchard in southwest Alabama, it could also just as easily be a story about the broader landscape of the Southern, evangelical church.
Fields, orchards planted years ago with great care, great eﬀort, and great hope for the future, orchards that once bore good fruit, bringing sustenance, nourishment and life to their communities. Orchards that now, due to spiritual decay, indiﬀerence, violent theological storms, or the general negative eﬀects of the passing of time, are largely mere echoes of their former glory, save one or two weary and scarred trees.
We believe that through the planting of new churches and the revitalization of those already in existence God is about the business of replanting His orchards in Bluﬀ Park and in Hoover and beyond. Our desire is for Bluﬀ Park Community Church to be a tree which is planted, nurtured and grown by God’s grace so that our surrounding community might beneﬁt both from its shade and its fruit.