Our next church hunting adventure was a rainy Sunday afternoon on May, 2012. We had decided to go over to the Maybeury and Switchback area. We rode across Elkhorn Mountain and then south on 52. I like to ride around first and see what churches are opened or closed. I knew there were no churches past Maybeury and I drove towards Me and Mr. Jones Estate.
Me and Mr. Jones Estate is an old mansion that was renovated into a bed and breakfast. (More information about it can be found here: http://www.meandmrjonesestate.com/index.html) Hatfield and McCoy trail riders are welcome there as a trail head is not far from that location.
Switchback Memorial Baptist Church, Switchback, WV
We rode around that mountain until we were in Switchback bottom. There is a white church over there that sits on the side of the mountain. The railroad tracks and Elkhorn River are to the left when facing it. There are a couple of old trailers that we passed before we got to the church and I had a bad feeling about them — not sure why. Maybe it was just the atmosphere that day with the rain and overcast sky.
As always, I was nervous when we started towards the church. This church sits quite a distance from any houses or major road and I wasn’t sure what we would find. Since it was May, the weeds had overtook the stairs that led up to the church. As I have stated before, I am completely terrified of bats, rats, and snakes. Buddy was the first to start climbing the stairs.
At the bottom of the stairs are two coal houses. They are quite a distance from the church. I’m not sure if they were used for coal for the church or maybe a house that used to be nearby. The stairs were so overgrown that there was one place where we both had to duck to avoid the weeds. We also had to watch our footing on the stairs (anyone that knows me knows that I am not graceful when it comes to walking, at times!).
We made it to the top of the stairs, and looked at the church to determine if it was safe enough to go in. One of the first things we look at is the steeple. If the steeple looks like it is still straight, then we know that the church’s foundation is still sound. This one looked ok, even though it looked like there had been a cross at the very top of it at some time.
Switchback Memorial Baptist Church, Switchback, WV, Window
We stepped onto the covered porch as it started to rain and noticed a sign on the door. The sign read: “This church has an appointed trustee board that was effective June 2005. For more info call (304) xxx-xxxx.” Buddy checked the door, and again to our surprise, it was unlocked. Again, he walked in first. The first thing I do when I walk into an abandoned church is look up. Those churches have some old bells in those steeples and I like to make sure they are not going to fall on my head! Buddy stepped through the vestibule and into the sanctuary. As I looked in, I was shocked and then terrified! The entire sanctuary was glowing. It was glowing RED. I said, “Why is it red??!!” Buddy looked in and said, “The windows are red stained glass.” I immediately calmed a little and felt somewhat childish! I said, “Oh, OK”.
Like he always does, Buddy started going to the back of the church. Of course, I voiced my warning to him, like I always do, of which he pays absolutely no attention. I started taking photos from the back of the church as I had no intentioned on venturing any further. As Buddy was busy looking around in the back room of the church, and as I was taking photographs, I had the strangest feeling of something walking up behind me. I immediately turned around to see who was standing there. There was no one; however, there was a feeling of evil. I started singing, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweetest name I know”! I yelled to Buddy to hurry up as we needed to get out of there.
Switchback Memorial Baptist Church, Switchback, WV, Sanctuary
Buddy had found some things and asked if we should take them. I told him yes and I would find someone who would appreciate having them. Our impression of the church was that it wouldn’t be there much longer. I had taken pictures of the sanctuary and a closet to the right in the vestibule. As we were leaving, I tried to get a picture of the basement stairway that was to the left. My camera failed to focus on anything there. There was adequate light, but still no focusing. Buddy told me to hurry up and let’s get out of there.
We left and carefully walked down the weedy stairway. I turned around a couple of times to take a couple of more shots. I was unaware of what kind of church this was. At that point, I really wasn’t concerned. Once we were back to the safety of the Tahoe, Buddy showed me what he had picked up. There was some letterhead that said, “Switchback Memorial Baptist Church”.
We hurriedly got in the Tahoe to leave and search for more churches. We drove to Barlow Holler and I realized that I had to go back. Buddy said, “Go back for what?” I had forgotten to video.
We returned to the church, but I did not have the same feeling of an evil presence being there the second time. I told Buddy that I knew when I said, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” that whatever was there was gone. When I called on His name that day, He came to us, in that church, and the devil had to flee. We live in a world filled with spiritual warfare, and I know there were angels all around us.
10. There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
When we got back to Mom’s house, I called the number that was on the door; however, I had to leave a message. Someone called Mom back and told me to call Tuesday.
On Tuesday, I again called the number on the door and spoke to a lady who had been raised in the Switchback church. She told me that the church had been closed and an attempt had been made to open it again. Before I told her my experience, she had went to the church alone one day and had the feeling of an evil presence. On that day, she had walked to that back room where Buddy had went and the door was closed. She had to push it hard to get it to open. When she started to walk in, there was a copperhead coiled in the corner ready to strike. She slammed the door and rebuked the devil. She later learned that the church had a history of being filled with snakes. At one time, there was one hanging from the ceiling before a church service. During our conversation, I also learned that there had been activities in the basement of the church that are against the will of God. That piece of information was confirmed by niece.
This lady also had me look this verse up with her:
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” Isaiah 58:12 KJV. She said, “This is what you are doing.”
Weeks before we visited this church, my sister had told me to be very careful. She had a dream where Buddy and I was in an old Baptist church and he had told me to hurry up and get out of there as there was an evil presence in the basement. She told me the church had a lot of rock around it, but she didn’t know where it was.
I called her when we got to Mom’s and told her to come look at my pictures. Before I told her where we were, I asked her if the church looked familiar to her. She said, “That’s it! That’s the church I dreamt about!”
Switchback Memorial Baptist Church, Switchback, WV
***August 28, 2012 — I failed to add this which I should have. It was evident that this church had done a great work for the Lord. Inside, was a plaque awarded to the church for their donations in the 1980’s for “Toys for Tots”. That, in itself, is a great work.
Also, people no longer respect the Lord or these houses of worship. It is a sad situation and a clear reminder of the times that we live in. The activities that I mentioned that occurred in the basement of this church were NOT by members. This had happened long after the church had closed.
© Photos — Renee Bolden