1956 16' Bubble
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: 1961 26' Overlander
Oh, this’ll be fun. I’ll be posting all day if y’all don’t mind.
So I’m not really camping but, having just moved to Kankakee, I’m boondocking in the truest sense of the word, believe me. Don’t know a soul but That Man I Used to Date, who is only here weekends at his house a mile down the river. I’m a little depressed, a little adrift, a lot lonely.
“Good time to get closer to your Maker,” my brother says.
So I go looking for a church. My first choice is an Assembly of God because I’m used to the holy roller stuff, speaking in tongues, being slain in the spirit, singin’, shoutin’, the whole 9 yards. (None of that has ever happened to me because I’m not devout enough. In fact, last time my niece Janna came down for a sleepover, she said, “Dad told me to witness to you.” I told her, “You don’t really have to, I believe in God & being saved.” She thinks for a minute, then says, “Oh, so you’re a beginner Christian.”)
So this Beginner Christian truly hopes to find an integrated church so as to not be a part of the whole upfront racist feel of this place. Of course none of these backward places have Web sites or even answering machines, so I go on the equivalent of church cold calls. Wednesday night Bible study at the First Assembly is all white & fairly tame, but it’s OK. Only thing I don’t like is the “contemporary music” strategy, which to my mind is a lot of fumbling with overhead projectors & the wrong sheet is always up there & the melodies are mushy & I’m an alto so it’s hard for me to sing unfamiliar songs.
Thursday & Friday I listen to the Swaggerts on Sunlife Radio & dance wildly to their barn-raisin’ music. That Man I Used to Date arrives Friday night & says, “What the blankety-blank is this? A Christian disco?”
Sunday rolls around, I sleep in. But driving down Route 45 to get beer, I spy a tiny church called “God’s Miracle Corner of Love” where services don’t start till 3 p.m. “Well, that’s civilized!” I think to myself. So I go home, drop off the beer, try to sneak unobtrusively into church, which is tough since I’m white. They’re not. But the music! To die for! White guitarist in a tie-dyed T-shirt & a black guy on the organ who clearly is seeing into heaven with each note. But the sermon throws me a bit. Brother Johnnie starts talking about how people always want him to pray for them to get some monkey or other off their back. “I ain’t wastin’ my time on that!” he says. “You want to stop drinking? STOP DRINKING! You want to stop gambling? STOP GAMBLING? I got better things to pray for! Someone comes to me says ‘Oh preacher please pray for Sister Debbie that she stops hookin’ cuz you know she has those 3 little babies to put food on the table for & she’s out on the streets sometimes so please pray for Sister Debbie.’ Well, Sister Debbie needs to STOP HOOKIN’! Ya hear me?”
That was keeping it a little too real for me on a Sunday, so onward, Christian soldier. Wait, beginner Christian soldier.
Wednesday night comes around again & I think, well, there’s a Baptist church only 2 miles away, let’s roll. Except the meeting starts at 7, not 6:30 like I thought. I weigh my options: Sit in the truck & listen to the Swaggerts, pop into the tavern next door, or go into the church. So I walk in with the other couple who pulled up at 6:24. They don't speak to me. The woman starts messing with a clarinet & the man looks at the floor.
Me: "I'm early, I guess."
Man: "Yep, church starts at 7. We're here because she has to practice."
Me: "I just moved here & have visited a few churches trying to find the right one. Am looking forward to the meeting."
Me: "I'm kind of hoping to find one that has a mix of races."
Me: "Uh, I think I'll pop over to the grocery store before the service as long as there's time."
Woman: "There's the Jewel up the road."
YES I LIED TO ESCAPE A CHURCH.
So I have a vague idea where some other churches are & start driving around even though I don't really need groceries. But the black churches seem to meet on Tuesdays & every one is closed. Finally I remember that, all the way across town, is a Grace Baptist, so we head there. It includes a full-fledged Christian school, which seems promising, and young people are flooding into the school building.
So I creep into the vestibule & indeed there is an adult Bible study about to commence. About a dozen people in their 60s & 70s and then me. But they introduce themselves at least & the pastor is very inquisitive: "What is your name? Are you married? Do you have a job? How did you find us?"
I relate the tale of fleeing Calvary Baptist & finding my 2nd choice, Faith Haven Christian Church, closed. The pastor ponders this.
"Faith Haven, huh?" he says. "I think that ….you would have found that church to be mostly .... Afro-American."
But I can't think of another escapist lie so stay put in my pew & we discuss the concept of courage & one Bible verse that does not seem particularly related & I promise to return & since I don't want to be guilty of TWO CHURCH LIES on the same evening I probably will have to drive through the parking lot someday to fulfill my promise.
Stay tuned, because summerkid stubbornly pursued a churchgoing experience despite the threat of meeting up with pesky Afro-Americans.
Of course I'm an elitist. Look around you.