Midday Matinee is our people watching, people doing and people being feature. Join the Woodland Creatures for an afternoon break.

My mother is approaching her 90th birthday soon, and there is a party being planned by the church that she has attended almost her entire life. The exceptions to her attendance have been: 1) college; 2) the year that they lived in Boston; and 3) The few years of their retirement that they lived in Texas. I haven’t yet met the man who is putting this birthday celebration together with a little help from my brother, but at this point, I can tell you that my mother absolutely beams whenever she talks about the “nice minister” who keeps reminding her about her upcoming birthday.

My mother has a lot of pride in that church. Her great-great-grandfather helped to get the church started. I didn’t have too many arguments with her about my wedding, but the one thing that she absolutely insisted on the fact that my wedding would take place in the church.

Well, the church has been slowly dying over the last ten to fifteen years, and a year ago, I would have written off the hope that it would last this long. For years now, there is no assigned ordained minister for the church. There just hasn’t been enough money coming in to cover the cost of having a minister. A large Sunday turnout occurs when there are twenty people there to hear the sermon. The parsonage has been rented out for quite some time, and is now being rented within the family by my nephew.

A few newcomers to the church had been trying to establish a routine schedule for speakers who would come to the church on Sundays. There had been a little success, but it was very difficult to keep coming up with people who would be available. That’s when the church pianist had a brainstorm that is described here.

She contacted an area speaker who is not an ordained minister, but someone who loves to speak about Christianity, and he came for a try-out session last July. He’s been such a hit that he is now the church’s primary speaker and is there almost every week. The entire congregation, according to my mother, seems to absolutely love him.

Oh, yes, I haven’t yet mentioned that Shane McCampbell (the new minister) is black. Now, he’s not the first non-white person to come to the church, but there certainly haven’t been many who’ve made their way over the gravel road to get to this tiny church. This is the kind of situation that makes me hopeful that indeed, we are well on the road to becoming more accepting of each other. While Fox and Tea Party activists are working to stoke up the fear of those dark people, this kind of situation actively works against their efforts.

I’m really looking forward to meeting Rev. McCampbell, this man who was brave enough to take on an additional church on Sunday that has no black members and very few members at all. He gives me hope that the future may not have such racial hatred. I like this story because it’s not based on being colorblind, but instead acknowledging the difference and bringing the two ways of worshiping together.

All at a small rural church, where it isn’t expected.

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