There is a small town, about 30 or so miles south of Montgomery, Alabama, called Fort Deposit. It sits just a few miles west of I-65. It’s a little off the beaten path; not much going on. That’s where I met Kenneth.
I was photographing the exterior of the Fort Deposit United Methodist Church when Kenneth drove up. His small red pick up truck looked as weathered as Kenneth. In a rather discernible southern accent, Kenneth asked if I would like to tour the inside of the church. My first thought, when he drove up, was that I would be told to leave. I guess I’m used to that. People seem rather sensitive to photographers these days.
Kenneth repeated his question and I said I’d love to. The church is striking from outside, not anything like one would expect to find in a small poor county in Alabama. The interior was just as beautiful. Kenneth gave a brief history of the church stating it was originally built prior to the Civil War but subsequently burned down. The new church, the one we were standing in, was completed in 1899. I could only get a photograph of the stained glass. It was just too dark for anything else. I wish I could share more with you.
Kenneth pointed out the beautiful alter and the magnificent wood clad ceilings. He spoke very lovingly of his church and his community. Kenneth lamented that church attendance was now very low. He said since the interstate highway was built, Fort Deposit had declined.
I left the beautiful church and drove just one block east and saw what Kenneth was talking about. A small downtown core that was mostly gone; buildings falling down, abandoned and or empty.
As I left Fort Deposit, I thought of Kenneth, and the pride in his eyes when he was showing me around his community’s church, talking of what once was. I’m a newcomer to the deep South. If Kenneth is an example of the human spirit I will find on my travels then I am looking forward to more miles on the road.