HANCOCK COUNTY — As she rode with fellow church members toward a model of Noah’s ark, Susan Pyle saw in a new way just how long 300 cubits can be.
“It gives you chills,” said Pyle, who visited the Ark Encounter on June 15 with a group from Wilkinson Church of Christ. “You just can’t imagine how big it is until you go there.”
The Williamstown, Kentucky, attraction offers a life-size model of the boat. According to the Bible’s book of Genesis, God told Noah to build it to protect his family and specimens of land animals from a worldwide flood.
There’s a lot of information to absorb, Pyle said. When she didn’t have time to stop at all the signs she wanted to read, she took pictures with her phone and read them during the ride home.
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Summer is road trip season for some; those who want the journey to enrich their faith can find plenty of options not too far from home. Here are some ideas:
Ark Encounter: Inside the structure — 510 feet long, 51 feet high and 85 feet wide — exhibits offer explanations on how eight people and scores of animals might have carried out daily life. “You need to allow a day, if you really want to take everything in and read everything,” Pyle said.
At $40 for adult admission ($31 for seniors, $28 for children 5 and older), Pyle admits it’s a pricey ticket, but thinks “it’s something everyone should see once.”
Plan to walk a lot, she said, but know that there are benches. Also, Pyle recommends the buffet in the building next door onsite.
Creation Museum: Ark Encounter’s sister attraction, 40 miles away in Petersburg, Kentucky, is also operated by Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis. Its exhibits include animatronic dinosaurs, a display on how sediment forms and other information to make a case that God created the earth.
“Go with an open mind,” said Rick McFarland. “They don’t really ridicule atheism and Darwinism. They just offer the alternative conclusions, and they do it in a non-arrogant way.”
McFarland leads a men’s group at New Life Christian Fellowship in Fortville. It plans to visit Ark Encounter this month and saw the Creation Museum several years ago.
“For anybody that questions their faith, I think (visiting the museum) is a big plus,” McFarland said. “They’ll go home with a lot of stuff to think about.”
Shrine of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin: The shrine portrays the life of Guerin, canonized by the Catholic Church in 2006. The site also includes the Saint Anne Shell Chapel, decorated with hundreds of shells from the Wabash River.
The shrine is a really nice, peaceful place to go, said Stephanie Garst, a parishioner of St. Thomas Catholic Church in Fortville who visited in March.
“It’s just interesting to have a saint here in Indiana,” Garst said.
Allow enough time, said Garst, and call to arrange a guided tour. Learn more at 812-535-2945 or spsmw.org/saint-mother-theodore/the-shrine-of-saint-mother-theodore-guerin.
Roofless Church in New Harmony: The southern Indiana town was founded in 1814 by Harmonists from Germany. While you’re in town, see the Harmonist and Cathedral labyrinths, each a circular maze-like path for prayer and reflection. Learn more at 812-682-4488 or usi.edu/out reach/historic-new-harmony/historic-tours, where you can find questions for an interfaith trivia hunt.
Shrine of Christ’s Passion in St. John: Bronze life-size sculptures depict Bible scenes from the Garden of Gethsemane to Jesus’ resurrection. Learn more at 219-365-6010 or shrineofchristspassion.org.
Old Cathedral (Basilica of St. Francis Xavier) in Vincennes: Though built in 1826, the site’s earlier structures date to the 1730s, when Indiana’s first Catholic parish was formed. Four bishops are buried in its crypt, and outside are the graves of some Revolutionary War soldiers. While you’re in town, check out the George Rogers Clark Memorial a few hundred yards away.
Chapel in the Meadow at Camp Atterbury: Italian prisoners of war built this Roman Catholic chapel during World War II. Call Atterbury’s welcome center at 812-526-1386 or visit atterburymuscatatuck.in.ng.mil/Portals/18/PageContents/Public%20Affairs/POW_Chapel.pdf.
… or see Chapel in the Meadow acted out: Actors recreate the building of the chapel in Indiana Historical Society’s “You Are There” exhibit, which began an 18-month run in March. Learn more at 317-232-1882 or indianahistory.org (select Indiana Experience, then You Are There).
Honorable mentions: They’re not religious sites per se, but they have undeniable religious connections:
•The CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute (812-234-7881; candlesholocaustmuseum.org) highlights the story of museum founder Eva Mozes Kor, a Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust.
•The Levi and Catharine Coffin State Historic Site in Fountain City (765-847-1691; Indianamuseum.org/levi-and-catharine-coffin-state-historic-site) and a new interpretive center nearby tell the story of a Quaker couple who helped more than 1,000 escaped slaves make their way to freedom in Canada.