The Old Church

 by Mike Peters

I was raised a Southern Baptist, where my father was an ordained minister.  Didn't have his own church. He would preach when the regular pastor was sick or on sabbatical.  My Grandpa Peters was a devout member of the Bloomingrose Church of Christ, over in Boone County.  I was married in a Methodist Church, the same church that my family now attends. I work in a Catholic hospital.

The pew was comfortable on Palm Sunday. The minister preached an inspirational sermon. The people were friendly. My youngest daughter held Daddy's hand. Yet, something didn't feel right. Something was missing, something I found in an old church.

It was a smaller church where I knew all the members.
It was a church with only one Sunday morning service.

It was where I heard young voices sing "Jesus Loves Me."
It was where I heard older voices proclaim "Amen," when emphasizing a point.

It was where I sat on a wooden chair, under a tent and listened to a guest minister.
It was where I leaned against a tree, in the shade and watched an outdoor baptism.

It was where verses were read from the King James Bible and not the newer versions.
It was where members did their own translating, underlining verses and scribbling in the margins.

It was where the Packsville Quartet sang "The Old Rugged Cross," and "Shall We Gather at the River?"
It was where the tenor voice of Uncle Herbert Stover was featured in a solo.

It was a one-room church up Spicewood, just above where Stanton Boggess now lives.
It was where great Grandma Coleman took her "youngins," a mother hen leading her chicks, a pied piper in an apron.

It was a church with a wood burning stove.
It was a church with a steeple and pigeons.

It had a sign, that told us how many attended this week, last week and last year.

It was where I first heard the term "shut-in"
And listened to someone "testify."

It was where I attended school on Sundays
And had punch and cookies in Vacation Bible School during the summer.

It was where I heard the clang of change rattling in the collection plate
And saw the proud smiles of children giving that change.

It was a church where children doodled on a piece of paper.
It was where we sucked on mints and chewed on Dentyne.

It was where grandpas nodded off during the sermon.
It was where they were awakened by a "fire & brimstone" pounding on the pulpit.

It was where young couples shared hymnals and dreams.
It was where older couples held hands and shared memories.

It was a church where boys wore clip-on ties.
It was a church where girls wore patent leather shoes and Easter bonnets.

It was where ladies wore fancy gloves and pillbox hats
And men dressed conservatively in thin dark ties, white shirts and dark suits.

It was the church of my youth.
It was where my ancestors worshipped.

I can smell the fried chicken that awaits us, after the benediction and a prayer of Grace.

Thanks for listening and as the cook, my Grandma Coleman, used to say, "Ya'll come!"


Mike Peters

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