The Reverend Marvin Barry

Pension Devotional Church of God, and the Reverend Marvin Barry's grandiose plan, both were now in ruins. If not ruins, exactly, then a vast unfinished project, now forlorn and unfulfilled. Reverend Barry would bring hope, if not of a better life here then of an even greater heavenly reward, to the downtrodden of the far South Side. 94th Street and Summit Avenue was to be the epicenter of a great rebirth, first of a community, then a city and region and nation.

Reverend Barry would lead all, black and white and every other human hue, to a new consciousness, a new commitment to human decency and fairness, starting from the modest church he was building at 94th and Summit. His ministry started out cautiously enough, in a tiny storefront a few blocks away on Vincennes, and even though the storefront was only packed to the rafters on Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday--but not even on Good Friday--his suddenly urgent vision made him realize that his movement could never be launched from a simple storefront. None of it would be taken seriously without a booming P.A. system and stained glass windows through which Sunday morning sunlight would stream vivid colors onto his beatific face. A new church was clearly needed, along with patience, but Reverend Marvin Barry had become anything but a patient man.

He saw the world slowly slipping away, soon to be far from his grasp. The new building was needed now, right now, whether or not his congregation could afford it. Such earthly considerations were of little importance to him, being infinitely less critical than the unbounded limits of his vision. A vision which in time proved to be overly farsighted. Looking too far ahead, he stumbled on something which was in plain sight for all to see.

Today the building stands incomplete, cinderblock walls of varying heights and stages of completion, with no roof or windows or floors, and ringed by a chainlink fence of humble pretension, as so little has been accomplished here that no self-respecting trespasser would ever intrude.

Barry thought little of it now, having purged it almost completely from his consciousness. The foreclosure was complete, the writeoff booked, the storefront lease abandoned. He occupied himself with evening real estate classes. He would soon become a different type of broker. His name which remained on the sign was the only momentarily lasting reminder of the lost vision which had once been his.


Copyright 2004, P.J. Anderson