All Day Church

How many times have our parents dragged us kicking n’ screamin to church on Sunday morning. Realizing early that it was totally futile to reject their wish of providing us with a headstart on the devil before the week began.

I don’t know about you, but some Sundays seemed to last into the next and as a child, my patent leather shoes grew stiffer under the already stiff crinoline dress as the service wore on. As a kid, turning and twisting in the pew next to momma, I watched poking my head up once and again as members sang and flung about worshipping and praising and walking and talking to God and Heaven itself. Sometimes, I’d get lost in the singing and forget about how hard the smooth seats were or that just ahead lay penney candy and long straight peppermint sticks my daddy would buy us after church. As long as we didn’t act up or get our clothes dirty.

The rhythm of the world belonged to me in those old foot stompin’, hand clappin’ services. The voices of Sister Sallie Millner and the Jr. Choir would rise into a crescendo sometimes sending members flying out of their seats toward the pulpit to shout glory! and halleluia! Glory to His Name! they’d shout and sing and laugh out loud and cry till their souls washed smooth .

Some ladies would get so “happy” that the ushers in their white uniforms and white gloves would have to fan them. phack! out would come the fans with the pictures of either Jesus or Martin Luther King on them.

Whoosh! The cool breeze of the fans and the soothing voices of the sisters would calm the women down and they would slump exhausted into their seats, satisfied with the spirit.

Momma’s favorite song was “In the Garden”. She’d stand tall with her hands folded and her voice would rang out : I come to the Garden alone , while the dew was still on the ro – –ses, and the voice I hear calling in my ear, and he walks with me and he talks with me, and he tells me I am His own.

After the singing and praising ‘portion’ of the service. Pastor Otis Chestnut would come and ‘bring the word of God’.

-This is when things got good. My feet, not yet touching the floor, daring not to anyway, since I’d scuff those shoes)

As Reverend Chestnut opened his Bible and began to preach, the deacons who sat on one side, began to answer and ‘call. YASSA! Preach SA! Reverend Chestnut would bring up a familiar verse like about somebody being in the wilderness and and angel bringing water or when he compared marriage and told of Rebecca and Iasaac at the well, my father and the other deacons would clap, shout, holla Amen! and Preach!

Then, (this is when church was worth the scratchy skirt), the women would take it up, Praise the Lord! Halleluia! Praise Him! Amen! Preach!
Behind me, one would hop out of her seat in the spirit and shout all around, the other people would have to get up and clear out of the pew so that the ushers could get in their with their healing fans. Ceremoniously, they’d appear, one on each side and help to quiet the lady or if the spirit was Really high they may even have to call for some of the deacons to help them carry the moaning, writhing female to the choir room where there was a couch and the ‘slain’ could recover. There she was met by an even higher authority, the nurse. The door would close. There would be the pop of a smelling sauce bottle and handkerchiefs being held under the poor ladies’ nose.

By the time the ushers finished picking folks up off the floor, clearing seats, holding folks so they could shout and handing out those fans, church service would be winding down.

By now the wave of fans would be heavy in the air. Folks moving around so would stir up a lot of heat and the cool air of the front steps were a welcome invite. I would long for the fresh air, for sunshine and the feel of the back seat of daddy’s mercury.

THEN, it was time for announcements. Dinner will be served under the trees out back for alll those who couldn’t get down into the basement!
Second Service would come directly after….

Did you go to church this past Sunday? Tell us about your church service.



  1. Eb said

    What a great and vivid writing about church!! As I read this, I really went back into time. I had similar experiences growing up in church. I loved this piece. Its funny because I was just thinking how they don’t “do” church like they used to…and sometimes church just doesn’t feel the same. Oh well. That’s another subject. 🙂
    I loved this piece though!!

  2. Thanks for commenting! Sometimes I think we go to church just to be socially correct. Do you find the same thing?
    I don’t know about you, but I wish we still had some of that same spirit. Thanks soul!

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