The comfort of the ‘home’ provided by a small church

By PEGGY SIMS,

I have read in the paper lately that summer church revivals are being scheduled at all of our area churches. 

The Baptists, my chosen religious belief, are usually the leaders at beginning these three or five nights of spiritual rejuvenation. 

I remember summer revivals, with the “glory singing,” as I was growing up. I am reluctant to tell you that, sometimes, I was not happy when this time came. Like most children of that age, I did not want to give up my outside play time in the evenings of late summer to sit in a hot church house and listen to an evangelist expound with a loud voice and pounding on the pulpit. And believe me, we had some very exuberant and animated men of God bring the message.

My family belonged to a little one-room white church in the Salem community. There was no air-conditioned coolness, but all the windows were raised to get a puff of air and to let all the bugs inside. Of course, the funeral homes in the area had provided us with the cardboard fans attached to a “popsicle stick” to keep the air moving and the bugs out of our mouths.

The wooden benches were hard, especially after sitting for a long time, as there was no cushioned padding to support our “sit-down-parts.” No TV screens, no pipe organ, no sound system, and sometimes we had no piano player. Many times, our glory songs were sung a capella. There was no educated music leader and each of the men in the congregation would take a turn in standing at the front of the church and lead songs from the hymnal, no modern praise music at this time. 

There were however lots of “amens,” “hallelujahs,” “praise the Lords,” and a few loud shouts. Nowadays, people seem to feel as if we need to be quiet in the Lord’s house, but I believe he wants to hear us shout praises.

The visiting preacher was always paid with a “love offering,” and during that time of my life, people had lots of love but not too much offering, so he usually expounded about sins and redemption for as much as $25 for the entire revival. Sometimes those who raised gardens would help pay him in vegetables or perhaps a hen or two.

I, at the time, am sure I was fidgety and restless during these revival times, never realizing these were some of the times in my life I was being molded into the woman I am now. The preachers would lecture from the Bible with simple, straight-forward words not easily misunderstood. There were no seminary-educated evangelists, just what my mother called “stump preachers.” She said that they loved the Lord so much and wanted to preach so badly, they would stand up on a stump and preach, no formal pulpit was needed.

On Sunday, the last day of revival, we always had “dinner on the ground.” There was so much fried chicken cooked in real lard — not a pick-up from KFC. I had lots of aunts there and they were excellent cooks, but whether you were kin to the Prices or not, they were all “down home country cooking” chefs.

I am thankful for all the big church houses we have now, but I have never felt at home in any of the bigger ones as I did growing up in that little one-room white-washed church with the stump-called preacher.

By the time revival time came around, our gardens were just about to play out, so my grandmother would make one of my favorite vegetable/bacon dishes.

Goulash

1 cup of butterbeans

1 cup cut off corn

1 cup sliced okra

1 diced onion

½ diced bell pepper

8-10 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

1 jar canned tomatoes

Cut up the bacon and fry until done. Remove from pan, leaving the drippings. Fry onions and peppers in the left-over grease. Add butterbeans, corn, okra, and tomatoes and simmer for about an hour. Serve with crunchy cornbread.