The Dairy Queen in my neighborhood is closing.
This is not a tragedy of epic proportions – except for my neighborhood where everybody gathers year round for a soft serve. And I mean everybody: every age, color, language, and economic class. There’s even a homeless man who sits just off the property who depends on neighbors to ply him with DQ hotdogs and Blizzards.
The truth of the matter is that:
- DQ is not even real ice cream. It contains milkfat, sugar, corn syrup, whey, mono and diglycerides, artificial flavor, guar gum, polysorbate 80, carrageenan, and vitamin A palmitate which is a retinoid. Retinoids are in the creams that reduce wrinkles, so the good news is that a cone of vanilla soft serve could be good for your skin. (Every day’s a school day.)
- Our particular DQ hasn’t served chocolate for a while because the chocolate machine is irreparably broken.
- The building – though classic – looks like it could collapse at any moment. The property tends to have multiple napkins and cups littering the parking lot.
But it’s our Dairy Queen. And it hurts. I’ve only lived here for 16 months but I am in shock. It’s not that I event went to DQ more than a handful of times. But I always knew it was there just in case.
My Dairy Queen’s demise comes down to money. The actual land – just 0.3 acres – was sold less than a year ago for $1.05 million. There’s a cute new wine bar just behind it which is already packed every night. Chances are this DQ will be replaced by something cooler and more expensive. But it’s been important because it’s one of the increasingly few non-hipster spots in the neighborhood.
This is what it should feel like to lose a neighborhood church. Maybe we’ve participated just a handful of times. But we knew it would be there if we ever needed it. “Everybody” was there at one time or another.
Unfortunately, many people see our neighborhood churches as disposable – sometimes for good reasons:
- Some of the ingredients of our churches are fake. We say we love everybody, but only if they fall within our norms for what is moral/appropriate/Christian. We say we want to love our neighbors. But our love is often transactional.
- We refuse to invest in what will serve our community.
- We have so much deferred maintenance on our properties that the classrooms are not safe and the roof might actually cave in.
It’s often asked by church consultants: who would notice if your church disappeared – beyond your members? Most of our congregations are invisible in the community and not because their buildings don’t have good signage.
This DQ will be terribly missed because it’s where all kinds of folks gathered and enjoyed each others company and were fed something timeless. How many of our churches can say this?
I hope that – increasingly – all our congregations can say this.
Image of my Dairy Queen in East Charlotte, NC.
I feel your pain. I LOVE DQ vanilla cones and treat myself regularly. And it is definitely one of those places that I expect to always be around at my convenience.