CHRISTY AND TIFFANY,
(AUGUST 22, 2010) For as long as I can remember, I have always attended church.
As a child, I was a member (baptized at 12) of the First Baptist Church in Beckley, WVA. The rule for me seemed to be that if the church doors were open, I'd be there. I went to Sunday School and church on Sunday mornings, BYF (Baptist Youth Fellowship) on Sunday evenings, choir practice on Wednesdays after school and then the Wednesday night supper.
Individual things I remember about each of these: Sunday School - We did a lot of coloring and pasting (white glue) and got to learn songs like "Jesus Loves Me.". I also remember that my mother NEVER went to Sunday School but always went to church while my dad NEVER went to church (except on special occasions), but ALWAYS went to Sunday School.
I had a 12 year perfect attendance record at the church for attending Sunday School. Whenever our family left town for vacation, we would always find a church on Sunday morning so I could attend Sunday School. For 12 years I never missed - and then I went to college. How do you say, "Back sliding?"
Since I never missed, that meant that my dad never missed either. I recall a very strong snow storm that came through Beckley. I was in high school at the time and my father and I walked from North Kanawha Street (where I lived) to the church through a very deserted and snow filled town. When we got to church, we were among a handful of those who had made it.
Right after Sunday School, my dad would drive home and pick up my mother. Sometimes I would sit with her in church - sometimes I'd sit with friends and she would sit with her friends. I do recall that her most favorite hymn was "Standing on the Promises." I recall standing beside her in church as she sang, but when this hymn came up, she sang much louder.
Another hymn memory I have of my mother is when she taught Tiffany the last verse of "Amazing Grace." That verse goes:
"When we've been here ten thousand years...
bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise...
then when we've first begun."
I recall that she had Tiffany sing "Amazing Grace" while traveling from Maryland, and then taught her that last stanza.
Brodie often thought that Tiffany should have gone to Nashville and was disappointed when Leann Rimes became the child star of that generation instead of our Tiffany.
Our BYF group was fun on Sunday evenings. We did what other youth groups did in other churches, but we often attracted other youth from other churches because our program was much stronger. I do recall that one of my youth leader heroes, Ed Butler, was dismissed by the congregation and lost his job. That made me very sad, and it split our church. I recall that congregational meeting when many adults, whom I'd had great respect and admiration for, spoke out against the man I felt to be good and kind. The vote was taken, Mr. Butler was out, and I was devastated as a junior in high school. I never felt the same about the church after that, but returned with the right spirit as an adult.
When school was in session, every Wednesday I went to choir practice. We would meet right before the Wednesday evening prayer meeting where a meal was served. Every time I smell meat loaf, I think of those meetings since it seemed that meat loaf was the major entree for Wednesday evenings. In choir I remember learning to pronounce "In excelsis" as if it were, "IN EGG SHELL SIS." Mr. Alan Staton, our high school band director, was also the minister of music during my high school years in the choir.
This covers some of my memories of church. I also have memories of church camp at Camp Cowan near Summersville, WV, and Green Lake, the Baptist conference center in Green Lake, Wisconsin. I will write about those at another time.