A church is more than a building
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
I had the occasion last week to go back to the church I grew up in. The odd thing is, it's no longer in the same building or even has the same name as when I grew up. Still, it's the church I grew up in.
From infancy until I left for college, I attended Roebuck Park Baptist Church. It was a stately church, built on the site of some former chicken coops. I'd spent countless hours there, either at Sunday School, Girls in Action or Vacation Bible School. I knew every nook, cranny and hallway. I knew how many panes there were in the stained-glass windows, how many boards comprised the arching roofs and how many dots made up each cross on the light fixtures that hung above our heads. Counting was one of the ways I stayed awake during long church services. The other way was looking up words in the Bible concordance, but that's not a whole lot of fun for a 10-year-old.
My favorite Sunday School teacher was an elderly lady named Miss Dixie. She gave us gum and took a Polaroid picture of us each Sunday. She hung those pictures on the door. I was about five and that was a pretty exciting thing.
Chewing gum and watching a Polaroid develop. That was about as good as it got.
One year, the church conducted an attendance drive. Each person received a silver bracelet the first week of the drive and a charm of a different disciple each following week. We all wore our charm bracelets to Sunday School. It wasn't quite as exciting as the Polaroids, but it was pretty good.
It was in the sanctuary of the old church that I competed in Bible verse memory contests. Always competitive, I once won a new Bible because I could say the books of the Bible forwards and backwards.
"Can you still do that?" my mother asked me this weekend.
I can't. I tried this weekend, only to confuse the Old and New Testaments and had Leviticus following Acts.
The new church is much nicer, and more modern. There's no orange carpet or pews. They've been replaced by fancy chairs and shiny walls. There are no hymnals. They've been replaced by video screens at the front of the sanctuary. The black choir robes – complete with the orange sashes that matched the shag carpeting – are gone. The choir – of which my mother is a member – now wears their own clothes.
Instead of Roebuck Park, it's now North Park Baptist, a name more reflective of its new location. But I bet, somewhere, even in those new fancy halls, there is a Sunday School teacher who is handing out chewing gum and taking a Polaroid of the girls in their Easter dresses.
At least I hope there is.