Rock beneath the Sand
Country Churches in Texas
Texana - Religion
8 x 8, 224 pp.
68 b&w photos., 1 map.
Pub Date: 11/07/2003
Sam Rayburn Series on Rural Life, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Commerce
  cloth
Price:        $35.00

978-1-58544-250-8

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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Rock beneath the Sand

Country Churches in Texas

Photography by Clark Baker
Text by Lois E. Myers and Rebecca Sharpless

At the crossroads of Central Texas, cotton once ruled as king. Around this demanding monarch, numerous communities grew up and thrived. From the distant horizon, the communities were marked by church steeples stretching skyward. Today, cotton has disappeared from the land, and the communities too are largely gone. Only the churches remain—the rock beneath the sands of time.

This powerfully illustrated book seeks to explain the staying power of these rural churches and to introduce the people who keep them alive while the surrounding communities have given way to the larger towns and cities nearby. Beyond the power of religion itself, the authors have uncovered the roles of geography, race, ethnicity, and family in giving life to these small churches.

Authors Lois Myers and Rebecca Sharpless enhance our understanding of the interplay of religion and culture, the qualities of late twentieth-century rural life, and the continuing draw of the open country churches and their members in vivid black and white photographs.

Churches featured in the volume include the oldest Norwegian Lutheran church in Texas, four African American Baptist churches organized soon after emancipation, white Southern Baptist churches, Protestant and Catholic churches founded by European and Mexican immigrants, and one union church that for most of the past century accommodated both Methodists and Baptists. Drawing on memories of longtime members, church minutes and histories, baptism records, and family histories, the authors collapse decades of tradition into the enchanting and informative pages of this book.

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