NOTHING NEW EVER HAPPENS at Loving Hands Baptist Church. People here have been doing the same thing the same way since the church was founded over one hundred years ago. And they love their monthly business meetings that have been held on every third Wednesday since the church first opened its doors in 1880. It gives them an opportunity to voice their complaints, concerns, opinions, and recommendations for, as my mother puts it, “the advancement of God’s holy work.”
On this third Wednesday in February, it is business as usual, as loyal congregants file into the auditorium for another predictable cutthroat battle that, so they claim, is done in the sincerest Christian love. For now, they are content to share polite pleasantries and friendly handshakes seemingly oblivious to the verbal scratching and clawing that is about to begin.
I am here against my better judgment as a favor to my father. He wanted the whole family in place tonight to provide him with support as he presides as the moderator over the confab. I had thought that being away for the last four years would give me some license to stay away from this drudgery. Nonetheless, here I am, feeling as if I had never left, sitting next to my mother who has already begun rummaging through her knitting bag preparing to work on yet another doily for the women’s missionary group.
Before me is the prized relic that has guided all who have passed through these hallowed doors. The old church covenant sign has remained without movement or change since it was placed on the preaching platform at the first ever church service by Rev. R E Hollister, my Great-Great-Great Granddaddy. On it is inscribed the carefully crafted rules of our faith, the “thou shalt nots,” by which all good Loving Hands members are expected to adhere.
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