The Great Church Experience

Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

Long ago in the deep country woods of North Carolina, a little lad would soon go to church for the first time in his life. He was six (maybe seven) at the time. He recalls his mom and dad getting dressed up for service. His two older sisters were also getting ready to go into the house of the Lord. His mom would eventually help get him to dress to go to church.

He felt funny putting on these adult-like clothes. It was even more of a struggle for him to put on and wear his church shoes. He felt like he was gonna collapse on the floor inside their mobile home. ‘’Do I have to go to wherever we’re going? I just wanna play with my army men toys’’ he thought to himself.

Nevertheless, he knew he had to go while looking at this political news show on tv while he waits to head to church. It’s finally time to head to this mysterious place. We all head to my dad’s blue car. The inside was very warm. Once his dad cut on the car, the AC slowly got strong where it took over the whole car.

We’re heading to this place. The young kid was wondering what this place looks like? Was it tall? Short? Would he see relatives there? His mind was wandering while his dad turns to the road that would lead them to church. They all saw one church when turning inside that road. This church was bigger than the one they were heading to.

They kept riding until the dad slowed down. There it was! The Church! Hooper’s Chapel Missionary Baptist Church. It didn’t look big at all. It was a small burgundy and white building. The family saw other members going inside. After parking the car on the right side of the church, his family went inside.

Inside the building, it was really pretty with lots of long seats. Most of the congregation were talking amongst themselves. The lad and his family sat in the third row on the right side of the church. Sunday service was about to start, those the young kid didn’t know it yet. The piano player started playing the first song.

The middle-aged choir of men begins singing this older gospel song. ‘’They sound pretty good’’ the kid thought. After they were done with that song, they sing two more gospel songs. The second one was more upbeat. ‘’Lord I’m running, trying to make 100 because 99 and 1/2 won’t do’’. That part stuck with the young boy.

The last song was a slow but sad song. After that selection, it was time for the tithes and offering. The boy’s mother gave him $1.00 to put inside the golden collection plate that the usher began passing around to each aisle. He and his family's turn soon came. His parents put their offering inside first, then his two older sisters did the same, and then him.

After that part of the service was over, it was prayer time. Everyone had to bow their heads and close their eyes while this man named Reverend Joyner led the prayer. After the Reverend would say a couple of words, the congregation would say thank you afterwards until the prayer was complete. Everyone would say Amen at the end.

The next part of service the boy did NOT see coming at all. The message. Reverend Joyner started with a biblical verse before beginning his speech. He started off calmly with this big smile on his face, a few minutes into the sermon, he slowly was getting more animated. The boy was getting a little nervous.

The Reverend was really getting into his sermon. In turn, had some of the congregation beginning to shout. The boy couldn't believe what he was seeing. ‘’Why is everyone hollering and shouting?’’ He started hearing a lot of YEAH after Reverend Joyner would say something. Then the Reverend made his way towards the congregation engaging with a few of them.

He then looked at the boy’s dad who was also into the sermon. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing unfold before him. This felt like a movie — - only it was real life.

What caused the Reverend to explode like this? Was it the Holy Ghost? What had the congregation into his preaching? Looking back at it years later. It could be that this was a place where people could let out their deep-held emotions that they can’t express into an unsympathetic world. Maybe they really did catch the Spirit.

That experience has stuck with me all these years. At the time, I didn't get the whole church process (in some ways I still don’t), but the saying ‘’I’m gonna lay down my burdens’’ hits a lot different than it did hearing it years ago.

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A curious one, Writer & Poet , History lover, and a fan of Haagan Das Ice Cream

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Gerald Washington

Gerald Washington

A curious one, Writer & Poet , History lover, and a fan of Haagan Das Ice Cream

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