Church as a Child

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!!

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14 responses to “Church as a Child

  • That girl

    Haskell Sparks – ’nuff said. 🙂

  • Keith

    You remember too! Hard to forget him. I heard him about three months ago. Don McGee invited him to speak at his church. He has not missed a beat.

  • Meowmix

    Brings back memories! The preacher who baptized me, age 13, was a big man with white hair and a booming voice. I remember when I went under the water, his hands were so big I thought they’d cover my whole face! Boyd Morgan was a giant of a man in my memory. Thanks for sharing this part of your journey.

  • gregengland

    Yep, that was church in North Alabama. You failed to mention those infamous “chart sermons!” My father in law lived to preach from his king sized bed sheet. His wife would spend hours and hours drawing out the chart, carefully lettering it, and coloring any figures (people) on it. When we saw that chart on Sunday morning, we knew we were in for at least a 90-minute sermon.

    Haskell. LOVED to hear him preach. Or as we would say, to “watch” him preach. I loved him and am so glad to hear he is still preaching, at least at times. He got a raw deal from coCs in that area. But he had/has a passion that was so lacking … almost like hearing a prophet from God.

    Your experiences mirror mine in so many ways. Thanks for sharing them.

  • Brenda

    Very good stuff. Cannot wait to read the next chapter

  • pam

    I also grew up listening to Haskell Sparks……..Cloverdale Church of Christ…..even as a kid I could not get enough of this man…….

  • Haley

    I googled Haskell Sparks and found this..your writings are so familiar..remember hearing him from about age 2 until I guess about age12 …love him so much and would love an update if anyone knows where he is..-

  • Keith Davis

    Haley, The internet is truly amazing. I wrote this in April 2011 and thought all the comments that would ever be made on it have been. Thanks for asking about Haskell.

    Haskell actually came to Florence about 2 years ago to a little church in East Florence and spoke to a fairly packed house. It was great to hear him speaking again. He has formed a church in and around his home in Mississippi. They are serving the community and blessing people. I don’t remember the name of the church or the city it’s in, but you might Google that too.

    What church did you go to when you used to hear Haskell?

    • Haley Pollock Kimbrell

      JUST NOW HAD HIM ON MY MIND AGAIN..I GREW UP IN AND STILL ATTEND THE CHURCH OF CHRIST AT CREWSTOWN …OUTSIDE LAWRENCEBURG, TENNESSEE. I REMEMBER HEARING HIM THERE AND PROBABLY AT ALL THE CHURCHES IN LAWRENCE COUNTY…SUCH A POWERFUL SPEAKER. I NOW HAVE 3 KIDS AND I WOULD LOVE FOR THEM TO HEAR HIM!

  • friendofHis

    Haskell Sparks
    Crossway Church
    2024 Highway 72 East
    Corinth, MS 38834
    Sunday service: 10am

  • Gela sparks

    What is your feelings towards him now?

  • Gela sparks

    Do you feel the same about him now? How well do you know him?

  • Keith Davis

    I’ve known Haskell for many years. I would consider us acquaintances. He knows me, but we don’t get to spend any tie together.

    For all that he’s been through, I’d think he has learned a lot. I’m sure too that, like anyone, he would go back and do some things differently. I love him as much as ever.

  • Wiley Finley

    God works in strange ways. I don’t know why I got to thinking about Haskell. I am 54 years old now and it was probably 25 years ago that I have seen him. Once at Shiloh Church of Christ in Hazel Green, Al where I attended for 30 years and once in Huntsville at East Huntsville – both for a meeting. My wife and I ate dinner with him a couple of times in a more private setting but still similar to a smaller “dinner on the ground” as Keith mentions. He was always a powerful speaker and kept your attention. I am still going to Church although my wife quit years ago. I do miss speakers like him. I have lived many places and heard many Preachers but he has always been a favorite. My wife and I watched “Waters of LIfe” for several years until we could not get it any more. The note from Gela sort of worries me though. Has he had problems or issues we do not know about. Don’t need details just if he is still alive, active and faithful in the Church of Christ. Thanks.

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