Once in a while, even reporters need a glimpse of the light.

There’s not much beautiful orthodoxy on the God-beat these days. The headlines are dominated by lawsuits, affairs, and seemingly endless conflicts, many of them between believers of different stripes. These are troubling times for those who write about matters of faith, says Laurie Goodstein, a national religion reporter for The New York Times.

“Every day I wake up and I say, is there anything we can do?” she told members of the Religion Newswriters Association recently. “. . . There are days when I feel despair about the news and the place of religion in it.”

Yet sometimes still, we are surprised by hope. Take the case of Miss Barbour “Bobbie” Wright.

For 30 years, Miss Bobbie stood outside the doors of Hillview Baptist Church, a small congregation south of Nashville, and waited for a miracle. She was there in the early 1980s, when the Hillview held its first service with 7 people in a tent on a snowy Easter Sunday. And she was there a year ago, on the day that Hillview Baptist met for the last time. All along, Miss Bobbie hoped and prayed the church would one day be filled to overflowing.

But Hillview, which once had as many as 100 people, had dwindled to a congregation of 14. Last spring, they voted to merge with Conduit Church, a relatively new congregation meeting in a nearby school. Conduit had people but no building. Hillview Baptist had few people and a building. It seemed like a perfect match.

Still, Miss Bobbie said that God told her to vote against the merger. The final vote was 13 to 1. The merger went forward. And then she almost walked away.

“This is when I’m going to leave,” ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.