I Guess They Were Doing It All Wrong
The picture on the right is the Hammond (Indiana) Evangelical United Brethren Church. I took this picture in the fall of 1969, on our way through the Calumet area, headed for Neenah-Menasha, Wisconsin. We were going to visit some neighbors who'd moved away about a year before.
According to all the stuff I know now, good ol' EUB Hammond had it all wrong. You could join without getting more than the top of your head wet, and they moistened me when I was a little bitty baby.
I guess Mom and Dad didn't know any better. They thought they were doing a good thing.
I don't recall a lot about the preaching there. I was a bit young to know whether sermons were topical or expository, and we didn't go all that often anyway. But for all the things Mom and Dad may or may not have done right, they did send me to Vacation Bible School there. More than one summer, I think. Frankly, it's been so long, and I was so young, that I don't recall how many times, or how old I was. But one thing I DO remember that I remember.
I was whatever age I would have been to have gone to VBS that summer. Some 2 or 3 months later, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be dead. To not exist. To not be "me" any more. Not silence, not rest, not peace. Just non-existence.
That's a really really depressing thought. So, I moped around for a couple of days, and recall not having much of an appetite. I recall, vividly, a lump in my throat, a weight on my shoulders, and a hollow feeling in my chest.
I can recall those like it was yesterday. No joke.
Right after supper one evening, Dad noticed my lack of appetite .. heck .. anybody would have, I suppose .. and asked me what was wrong. I said "I'm afraid of dying". His response is burned into my memory more surely than any hard drive or tape system could ever record:
"Don't you remember what they told you in Vacation Bible School? If you believe in Jesus, when you die, you go to heaven."
I said "Oh .. YEAH!" The lump in the throat, the weight on the shoulders, and the hollow feeling in the chest disappeared instantly.
I know it was still summer, as I got up, ran outside, and played with the neighborhood kids.
Anyway, for all the stuff those EUB folks may have gotten wrong, you're going to have a tough time throwing rocks their way when you're around me. If it hadn't been for those ladies and their love for kids and their little loaves of flour & salt imitation bread (we made plaques with verses spelled out in alphabet noodle letters) and the games they played with us, I shudder to think where I'd be now.
It took me a lot of years, tears at altars, and chasing around trying to be righteous, to discover what had happened that evening. As my friend and then-prayer-partner Dave Van Veld said, I'd given as much of me as I could give, to as much of Jesus as I could get. I know doggone well I was saved right then, through a simple act of trusting Jesus to take me to heaven when I died.
All the stuff that's gone on since then (the good parts) has merely been God taking me at my word, and doing what He wanted with me.
God seems to have taken care of things with the church. The EUB joined with the Methodist Church to form the United Methodists .. the building was Christ United Methodist Church by 1969 .. and the building isn't a church any more, anyway. This picture, taken in 2003, shows some sort of business now inhabits the premises.
In case you hadn't guessed, I got a slide scanner (from me) as a retirement present and I've been scanning some of the thousands of 35mm slides into my computer. And no I am NOT fibbing. I'm already up to 1380 and I have 350 on my desk to scan, yet. Plus several trays of 100 downstairs and a few 120 trays, too. Then I can get on to the similar number .. or more .. I inherited from Mom and Dad.
I don't want to think about the print pictures, yet. They date back to the time Dad was an infant, and I probably have more of them than I do slides.
If anybody needs to contact me, I'll probably be here a while.