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Reflections: Growing up in a Church

I remember growing up, going to the First Methodist Church of Amory, Mississippi. This was, and still is, one of the most beautiful churches anywhere. The painting of the Last Supper overhead at the top of the ceiling, over the pulpit! Below the choir with all the fine singers in matching robes and the colors in the inside were dark red, when I was growing up. But the last time I was there, they were blue. And everything in there was kept clean and fresh, like new. Fresh flowers always in front of the pulpit placed by different families. The balcony was starched across the back top of the church. The windows were stained glass, beautiful pictures and the colors so vibrant.
This would have been back in the lates 1940s to 50s. Some of the first part of the 1960s, and I’m glad my mother made sure we were up, dressed in our Sunday best and took us there, and on time, for Sunday school and then the preaching. I also do remember christenings, singings, baptizing, weddings and funerals there.
When I was little, I remember Bible school and trips to two different churches camps. There were always Easter egg hunts, and Christmas doings and singings. Christmas caroling with our Sunday school classes, for the old people and shut-ins or really anyone that wanted to hear us. They always loved our singing and always thanked us over and over. Some gave us cookies and hot chocolate, and some gave popcorn balls or whatever they had to help chase the cold away and thanked us! But we would have done it for nothing and did. We just liked doing it even if it was so cold at times. Our mothers always dressed us up with hats or scarves and gloves to keep us as warm as they could. I remember wearing blue jeans under our dresses.
I don’t know how Mother did it, but when we got home from church, she always had a wonderful Sunday meal cooked and ready. I remember sometimes she did the rolls and gravy after we got there. We had fried chicken a lot; she must have gotten up early and fried it. With English peas, creamed potatoes and corn. Other times, we had roast with the potatoes, carrots and onions all cooked together, and maybe green beans or peas on the side, always cold tea with lemon and mint in the right season that she grew in the back yard. Then we had something sweet after our meal. Cakes, pies, cobblers – all homemade.
I think Mother just knew how to time it, so it would be ready right as soon as we got home. We only lived a half a block from the church. We always looked forward to a nice Sunday meal. It was just part of Sundays. Then sometimes, we had church suppers and all the women brought whatever they cooked, the best! It was always a feast, too! Wonderful fellowship and praying to go with the good food.
Then sometimes a visiting preacher or missionary would come home with us to eat, that was always nice! I remember Doctor Huck as one of our missionaries. I learned a lot from him. He was from India, and he told us about other beliefs, in far away countries and to stay away from them, for they were NOT Christian!
When we were teens, we did go to a lot of different kinds of churches – that was one way we had of dating was to go to church with our dates. And in this way, we were exposed to a lot of different churches.
I, much later in life, changed to Baptist because I was saved in a Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. I thought that must be where I now belonged because of being saved there. Years later, when I returned to Mississippi, Mother asked me to let the kids go to the same church that I had as a child, and we now live right across the street from the east side of it, so I did and loved it, too. But, in all, I did get the main foundation and the beliefs from there, so that was good! I know I have strayed many times, but always came back, because of them.
We had some wonderful preachers that came and went from there. I loved the church and did get my believing in Jesus from there. The Sunday school teachers were great, too! They gave me a good start on things that I will never forget. And it has come back to me, many things. I will never forget all the weddings, funerals, singings and revivals. Many other things are forever in my mind, memory and heart even after all these years.
The only thing I found that I didn’t really understand was this one Sunday school teacher – bless her heart. I am sure she meant well and was trying to help us learn. She started around the room, making us read out of the Bible. This was hard for me because some of the Biblical words were hard for me to even pronounce, and I was not much of a reader at the time. I never got anything out of the class because I was too busy counting the kids around the room and then their verses, trying to see what verse would be mine. Then trying to see if I knew all of the words. I never heard what anyone read and never got a thing out of what other people read!
I think it would have been better if they just let the kids volunteer if they wanted to read. Or let the Sunday school teacher read to us. Then I could have been listening better! This is just my thinking – I could be wrong! I am NOT putting down the Church at all – just some of my thoughts.
People today need to take or at least send their children to church; there they will learn the main things from it. Then they have some kind of background and formation to go by the rest of their life.
Even with my nit picking on one thing, I LOVED that church, growing up, and would not take anything for having gone there. The people are great and I DO love them, to this day.
I must go visit one Sunday.

This Reflections story is from Mary Kidd Holt of Mantachie, Mississippi, as seen in “The Oxford So & So.”
If you would like to contribute your own Reflections story, send it, along with photos, to hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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