History doesn't just give us a glimpse into the past; it helps explains how we got where we are today.
When it comes to the South, one particularly helpful filter to history is the local church. These places of worship were often the centers of their communities, whether in major cities or small villages, yet some have faded from view or have all but disappeared.
A six-part special, "Saving Grace," airing on Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), aims to keep them around a while longer. It's based on the work of Sonny Seals and George Hart, founders of the Historical Rural Churches of Georgia. They produced the series and created an award-winning book of the same name, all with the goal of bringing these communities to life for an audience that might not even know they existed. The series explores Georgia communities through their churches, looking at the architecture, the setting and the specific community — and ultimately, preserving the stories before they are forgotten.
Seals and Hart explain how their mission began on the Historical Rural Churches of Georgia website:
How many were there? What will happen to them? Does anybody care? Is there any way to save them? These questions are what led to the development of this website. Georgia is blessed with many of these old rural treasures, but many of them are now gone and others are badly in need of assistance. HRCGA has recruited a group of very talented and passionate photographers to document these treasures in the style we think of as "reverential documentation".
The series premieres Sept. 10 at 9 p.m. EST on the nine GPB stations in the state. Each episode will also be available on GPB's website the same day it premieres.