Published on January 7, 2020 by Sean Flynt  
Magic City Religion
Professor David Bains (bottom left) with students in his Religion in Avondale seminar

Students of Samford University professor David Bains spent the fall semester documenting Birmingham’s diverse worship spaces, with special emphasis on the Avondale community. Their 21 essays, ranging from the Abbey to Zion Star Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God are now online at Bains’ Magic City Religion website.

Bains, a professor in Samford’s Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, specializes in the study of sacred spaces. He is past co-chair of the Space, Place, and Religion unit of the American Academy of Religion, and author of several studies of religious space including “Protestant Spaces in North America” in the Oxford Handbook of Religious Space (forthcoming) and “Church Architecture Worldwide since 1800” in The Wiley Blackwell Companion to World Christianity.  

For his Introduction to World Religions course and Religion in Avondale seminar in the fall, Bains asked 58 students to work in teams to document spaces as old as the 147-year-old First Baptist Church of Birmingham, and as new as the 2-year-old Alabama Buddhist Vihara. He said he expects to add another 12 essays this spring and in following semesters, creating an important digital resource for a devout and diverse city.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.