My earliest remembrances of church were vague. I remember going to events like homecomings, hearing preachers at gospel meetings, and attending “pew-packers” classes.
Homecomings were always filled with people, food, preaching (lots of it), and family. The food would be placed on tables outside (weather permitting), even though it was called “dinner on the ground.” There would be seemingly miles of food. Chicken, beef, casseroles, veggies, dessert, drinks and more! The church building would be bursting at the seams with people. Chairs were brought out and placed in the aisles and sometimes even on the stage. Preaching would last for hours! Not really, but it did seem that way for a kid.
The greatest thing about homecoming was family. It was the one time of the year when we would get together and most of my mom’s side of the family would be there. We would get to meet people we were kin to and didn’t even know it. Many of them are gone now. It seems that these times don’t get to happen much any more. It’s really sad that we can’t find the time to gather like we used to.
As far s church on a regular basis, I have fond memories of the people in those places. I can remember going to class with all my friends. We didn’t act like we were listening all the time, but from the knowledge of King James Bible verses still in my head, I must have been listening better than I thought. I am grateful to many men and women for this time and energy put upon my learning of God’s word.
I remember the night I was baptized into Christ. We had heard a powerful message from a traveling preacher of the day named Haskell Sparks. As a youngster, he was always my favorite preacher. He was one of only a few men who would preach and I would have literally sat for hours if to listen to him. he had a passion that was unlike any of his day. He would loosen his tie (totally taboo for that day for most guys), wipe the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief and hold the Bible high in the air as he convicted people of their need for Jesus. The Spirit was strong with him, although we would not have expressed it that way then.
After the lesson on that night, several of us guys were in the parking lot talking about it. About 3-4 of us decided that it was time! I remember two names, and I think there was a third one besides me, but I don’t recall who it was. Howard Broadfoot, David Collier and myself I recall for sure. I remember like it was yesterday going down into that water and coming up seeing David, one of my buddies, still wet from his baptism. He said, “Don’t you feel good!” And I really did. I know I didn’t fully understand all the ramifications of that moment as a young man of 14, but I knew that I had a clean start because Jesus had saved me from my sins.
The monotony of church lead us kids to do some crazy stuff. We played all kinds of games with it. We would play, “guess what the prayer leader will say next.” We also played games like counting the ceiling tiles and light fixtures. I remember one time getting in trouble for carving the back of the church pew. What did I carve, you might ask? My name!! How stupid is that!!??
Before being baptized, we used to get to “do the trays.” This meant standing in the back and taking the communion trays from the servers to the room where the cups would get washed or thrown away, depending upon plastic or glass. We would put all the “crackers” in the boxes and empty all the cups into the sink. We really thought we were breaking some sacred law by sometimes drinking the juice out of those cups. We would have someone stand guard at the door while we would down the juice!
Though church itself was seemingly always the same thing over and over, and to be honest, it was very boring a lot of the time, I am grateful that I was there and that this is a part of the story of me. I received a basis for my faith from so many without which I would not be as strong spiritually as I am.
Special kudos to my mom. I can’t tell you how many times she literally “made” me go to church. We had countless arguments about it and I regret that. I wished I had seen more value in it at the time, but God bless her for her persistence. My dad wasn’t that interested in spiritual things at that time in his life. He would later get very involved in church life. My mom, however, was very much into being at church.
I could write more, but its late and I’m tired. Thanks for reading!!