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Opinion: Church with my grandma

I miss seeing the way people dressed in the old movies and television shows. Ladies in gloves and hats, not a hair out of place. Men in double-breasted suits, ties and fedoras.

The closest I ever came to actually seeing people dressed this way was when I was a little girl and went to church with my maternal grandma Lillie Mae Kirk.

We worshiped at the Church of Christ, then at Central and North B streets. Every Sunday the church bus would pick up parishioners and deliver us in time for Sunday school.

Services were held Sunday mornings and evenings along with Wednesday evenings. I always preferred the evening services because they consisted of hymns and prayers. Those were included in Sunday morning services along with a sermon. For this little kid sitting through the pastor’s Sunday sermons was my least favorite part of the service.

During Sunday morning services the congregation would partake in communion. Little shot glasses of grape juice and pieces of unleavened bread were passed down the row of congregants. Those people who were baptized partook of what represented the blood and body of Christ.

My grandmother also served as church custodian. Many times I accompanied her as we vacuumed the church and the Sunday school classrooms. We also carefully washed and dried the shot glasses and platters used for communion.

According to church doctrine, musical instruments were forbidden. All hymns were sung a cappella. Fortunately, the church had parishioners who were excellent singers. The Kilcrease family and especially the family patriarch Don Kilcrease and his then-wife, Frankie had beautiful voices. Don led the singing of the hymns. Another of the church rules followed was that women weren’t allowed to take part in leading in any of the services if there were men in the audience. As a feminist at a young age, part of the doctrine never set well with me.

Some of the men of the congregation were titled deacons and elders. I never knew exactly what the designation meant.

Other families that were prominent include Grady Billington, Robert Romine and Cecil Southall. The ministers I remember from childhood were Lloyd Smith and H.L. Cody. Quite a jovial pastor Cody once told me in jest that the H.L. stood for “Handsome Looking.

At the very front of the church, there was a baptismal. It resembled a bathtub with a mural on the wall resembling blue water and green trees.

Associated with the church was the Yosemite Bible Camp. I attended church camp several times as a child and teenager. We had dormitories with bunk beds and we slept in sleeping bags brought from home.

While it was a co-ed camp the separation of the boys and girls was strictly enforced. The cabins were on opposite sides of the common areas made up of the mess hall, kitchen and the area where services and nightly campfires were held.

The camp also had a very nice swimming pool. Co-ed swimming was strictly forbidden.

The pool was also where baptisms were held after evening services. How the water in the pool became holy water during baptisms was something I questioned. It was one of those things that was never discussed out loud.

Dancing between the boy and girl campers was another taboo that was strictly enforced.

When I was in high school we held weekend winter camps for the teenagers in the congregation. Smoking was strictly forbidden. I guess I don’t need to say how often I got in trouble for that infraction.

Long days and pleasant nights, have a blessed weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.



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